The McKechnie Institute opened in 1889 thanks to the benevolence of a local businessman, Thomas McKechnie. Its architectural style is Scottish Baronial with some Renaissance detailing. The Architects of the Institute were McKissack & Rowan of Glasgow, who were also responsible for the design of Girvan Parish Church. The ground floor originally contained a Library, Reading Room and Ladies Room. On the first floor was a billiards room and beyond that the Librarians House. A contemporary report states 'Every evening the places are all but crowded with labouring men, fishermen, tradesmen and others…'
The McKechnie Institute is still an extremely popular community venue to this day. There are most often displays of items from the McKechnie Institute collection, in conjunction with a programme of temporary exhibitions in the downstairs and upstairs galleries. In addition to this, the McKechnie is the venue for many local group meetings, Councillor surgeries, art classes and much more.
The McKechnie Institute collection is mainly memorabilia relating to Girvan and the Carrick area, covering aspects of trade, travel, fishing, social activities and Ailsa Craig.