William Dobell, The billy boy, 1943, ART30245

The Memorial houses one of Australia’s major art collections. Amounting to over 30,000 works of art, it includes paintings, watercolours, drawings, prints, cartoons, illustrations, posters and sculpture.

Many of Australia’s most highly regarded artists are represented, such as Will Dyson, Arthur Streeton, George Lambert, William Dargie, Ivor Hele, Nora Heysen, Stella Bowen, William Dobell, Russell Drysdale, Grace Cossington Smith, Donald Friend, Albert Tucker and Sidney Nolan. Also significant are prints by internationally renowned artists such as Kathe Kollwitz, C.R.W. Nevinson, Otto Dix and Paul Nash.

The art collection began with the inception of the Official War Art Scheme, the longest-running commissioning program of art in Australia. This still constitutes a large proportion of the collection, including work by contemporary artists Rick Amor, Wendy Sharpe, Peter Churcher, Lewis Miller, Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, Jon Cattapan, and, more recently, eX de Medici and Shaun Gladwell.

The Memorial also maintains active commissioning and acquisition programs, both of which continue to augment the collection.

The commemorative focus of the Memorial is realised through the commissioned works in the Sculpture Garden and the mosaics and stained glass windows of the Hall of Memory, together they incite reflection upon the sacrifice of Australians in war.

Artist profiles provide further information on some of the artists represented in the Memorial’s collections, with a particular focus on their commission if an official artist, or their reflections on war and the ways in which they were affected by conflict.

Access to the art collection

Exhibitions

Works of art from the Memorial’s collection are an important feature of the displays throughout the galleries, documenting Australia’s involvement in conflicts from the Colonial period to present-day peacekeeping operations. Historical and anniversary-based exhibitions compliment the Memorial’s Special and Travelling exhibitions developed to further commemorate, educate and question Australia’s participation in conflict. The Memorial also maintains a Loans program, lending works of art to other galleries and museums around Australia.

Research

The Art collection can be accessed through the Memorial’s online database Collection Search. Access to works of art not on display in the galleries is also available by appointment only with the Art Section. Some biographical information on official artists can be accessed for research purposes through the Research Centre.

Publications

Publications about the Memorial’s art collection are available from the Memorial Shop.

Reproduction service

The Art section engages in an ongoing photography program, many of which are available to purchase through the online shop. Please direct all reproduction and copyright enquiries to the eSales section.