Throughout the years, MCMA’s primary and continuing efforts have been in the promotion of the mechanical arts and trades. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, these efforts took the form of an Apprentice Library, a Trade School and Mechanical Exhibitions. The Exhibitions, in particular, offered an opportunity for artisans to showcase their work. The award of an MCMA medal was recognition of excellence that was important to recipients and widely respected, both by their peers and by the public at large. Initially held either at Faneuil Hall or at Quincy Market (designed by member Alexander Parris), the Exhibitions were held from 1883 onwards at MCMA's own Mechanics Building on Huntington Avenue in Boston.

In more recent years our focus has been on charitable support for Massachusetts organizations that themselves either teach mechanical arts or use vocational training and workshops as a key part of their programs.