A London-style private club aimed at young professionals will open in the Hellenic Museum in William Street next month.
Income from the Delphi Club and its corporate version, the Hermes Club, will help fund the non-profit museum, which is housed in the heritage-listed former Royal Mint building.
The Delphi's annual membership fee will be $500, for entry to the lounge and free monthly events. Companies can buy a tailored Hermes Club membership for between $5000 and $100,000, with the premium package including use of the building for company functions and signage rights.
For its first five years the museum has been mostly bankrolled by the wealthy Stamoulis family.
Museum chief executive John Tatoulis said the club, set up in a first floor former gallery space, will breathe new life into the landmark building and into Melbourne.
The city's existing private clubs, mostly set up in the 19th century, such as the Melbourne Club, the Athenaeum and the Australian, tended to be ''fairly conservative and rigid'', Mr Tatoulis said. ''This is much more culturally significant and focused. It's an open, egalitarian, cultural club.''
So far people mostly aged in their mid-20s to late-40s, from the legal, government, academic, medical and arts worlds, have signed up for the Delphi Club although new members aren't screened and don't need to be recommended by a member. Dress would be ''smart casual''.
Mr Tatoulis said the club's cosy, old-world-lounge look was inspired by the Gloucester Room at Home House in London, which features in the pages of Marie Claire and Hello! magazines and hosts product launches and social nights.
Mr Tatoulis said from late October the Delphi would be a place where friends could meet for drinks several nights a week - a quieter, more impressive venue than a pub or cafe.
But it would be more sophisticated and artistic than posh, with members invited to exhibitions, film nights, book launches, recitals and charity functions.
The first event function on September 28 will be a concert by Greek New Zealander classical musician John Psathas, who composed for the 2004 Athens Olympics ceremonies.
Postgraduate law student Kimon Ioannides, 27, of Fitzroy, among the first to join the Delphi Club, said it would be good to meet other young professionals, ''and the fact that it's in the city makes it really accessible. For lunch or after work I'd like to bring people in and … show them a bit of my culture. I like the networking aspect and having somewhere I can call my own little corner of the world, corner of Melbourne.''
At the launch of the two clubs this week, board chairman Harry Stamoulis announced the Hellenic Museum clinched a deal to house 200 Greek historical objects from the Benaki Museum in Athens.
The works, ranging from pottery to weaponry, jewellery and paintings spanning 8000 years, will form a permanent exhibition from early next year.