Centenary projects 2014

Anzac voices exhibition

What Australians endured on Gallipoli and the Western Front, in the mud of Flanders and the deserts of Sinai–Palestine, was almost beyond description. It can never be fully comprehended by those who did not fight in these campaigns or witness them firsthand. And yet we can get at least an inkling of what it was like for the Anzacs by reading their own accounts. Their experiences of war emerge compellingly from the pages of their letters and diaries.

Drawing on the letters and diaries in the Memorial’s archives, this exhibition presents an intimate account of the First World War. Anzac voices is on display in the Special Exhibitions Gallery until late November 2014.

Anzac voices is now closed, however the Anzac voices exhibition page is still available.

Anzac connections

Anzac connections is the Memorial’s major digitisation and web development project, which aims to make historic documents from the Memorial’s archive available online to all Australians. This ongoing project will deliver new digitised collections to the website, improve search and discovery on the site, and provide ways for people to interact with the collection, including the ability to comment, tag, and transcribe the collections.

To date, the Memorial has digitised 150 collections of private records related to individuals who served in the First World War. More collections, data, and web developments will be progressively released during 2014–15.

Visitors to the site will be able to read about soldiers’ experiences in their own words; letters written home in neat copperplate, or scribbled messages jotted down before battle. The Memorial’s digital archive now includes letters, private diaries, commanders’ unit diaries, official histories, memoirs, and postcards from soldiers to officers, nurses, journalists, and observers. These pages form a comprehensive written record of what Australians experienced during the First World War and are freely available to all online.

First World War dioramas

The Memorial’s iconic dioramas have remained an integral part of the First World War Galleries. Some of the original dioramas no longer exist, having been damaged or removed during earlier building renovations. Today, 13 First World War dioramas are held in the National Collection. Ten of these dioramas are on display in the new exhibition, Australia in the Great War, including two Sinai–Palestine campaign dioramas – Semakh and Desert Patrol – which have not been publically displayed since the 1980s. Desert Patrol depicts a light horse patrol in the Sinai desert and will replace the Romani diorama. Semakh depicts the events of 25 September 1918, when the 11th Light Horse Regiment attacked the village of Semakh in Palestine. Its inclusion in the galleries is of particular importance since the 11th Light Horse Regiment had the largest-known group of Indigenous Australians in one AIF unit.

BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities has generously donated $1 million to the Australian War Memorial towards the new First World War galleries. 

Roll of Honour soundscape

From 4 August 2014 until the end of 2018 the recording of schoolchildren reciting the names of those who appear on the Roll of Honour will be heard throughout the First World War cloisters in the Commemorative Area.

This ambitious project will bring together recordings of each of the more than 60,000 names that appear on the First World War Roll of Honour panels.

In partnership with the ABC, the Memorial invited primary school students from across Australia to lend their voices to the project.

Each school’s students travelled to their closest participating ABC studio, where the children each spoke the name and age at death of a different soldier from the Roll of Honour panels.

The recordings will become part of the Memorial’s National Collection, a piece of history commemorating the centenary of the First World War.

The Memorial has worked with Google and Grumpy Sailor to develop a downloadable recording application, called Remember Me, that will allow schools to participate remotely in the Soundscapes project. The application is currently available and can be provided for download by completing the webform on the Roll of Honour soundscapes page.

A camera on Gallipoli

Over 2014–15 the Memorial will have a digital exhibition that showcases the photographs of Charles Ryan, drawn from an extraordinary private collection assembled during the Gallipoli campaign.

This exhibition will display iconic as well as previously unpublished images from a time and place that has become Australian legend, and in so doing will explore the extraordinary life of the man behind the camera. Amazingly, almost 40 years before the Gallipoli campaign Ryan, a senior medical officer, had served with the Turkish army. Back on the peninsula during the First World War, a brief armistice to bury the dead (one of the events captured by his camera) allowed the elderly Ryan to stand in no man’s land talking to Turkish officers about wars past and present. It was his sensitivity, his empathy with those on both sides, and his eye for the remarkable and the everyday that enabled him to capture, through a lens, the spirit of Anzac.

For more information visit the A Camera on Gallipoli exhibition page.

Roll of Honour name projections

From 4 August 2014 until 11 November 2018 the names of each of the more than 60,000 Australians listed on the First World War Roll of Honour panels in the Memorial’s Commemorative Area will be projected onto the exterior of the Memorial building.

Members of the public are invited to watch the projections taking place nightly at the Memorial. Names will be displayed from sunset to sunrise, and. each name will appear around 30 times over the course of the four-year period.

The Memorial has developed an online method by which the general public can receive information on the anticipated time and date that a particular person’s name will be displayed.

Australians at the Great War, Peter Burness

When war broke out in August 1914, Australia immediately answered the call. Hundreds of thousands of its citizens became soldiers, sailors, airmen, or nurses for the duration of the struggle. In all, more than 350,000 Australians – all of them volunteers – went off to serve on foreign soil, in the air, or on far-off seas. From the shores of Gallipoli and the sands of Sinai–Palestine to the muddy fields of France, they took part in some of the war’s most famous battles. But the cost of victory was high. More than 60,000 failed to return, having either died of wounds, been killed in battle, or succumbed to illness. Many of those who survived would continue to bear mental and physical injuries for the rest of their lives.

This publication, written by Lambert Gallipoli Fellow and Memorial Senior Historian Peter Burness, tells the stories of these men and women.

Anzac Treasures: the Gallipoli collections of the Australian War Memorial
Dr Peter Pedersen

Written by Dr Peter Pedersen, former Head of the Research Centre at the Memorial and author of seven other books on the history of the First World War, Anzac Treasures commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign.

This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of the Gallipoli campaign in a unique and compelling way, focusing on the rich collections of Australian War Memorial objects, photographs, and works of art pertaining to the campaign, and containing a wide selection of fascinating personal stories.

Commemorative Crosses project

In early 2013 the Australian War Memorial assisted in the distribution of some 2,000 crosses on which Australian schoolchildren had written messages of hope and thanks for those who have served in Australia’s name. These crosses have since been placed on the graves of First World War Australian soldiers on the western front.

The concept for this project originated in late 2010, when a small group of individuals based in Australia and Britain sought to pay their respects to those who had died while on active service. Led by the late Peter Pickering (Hobart), they produced small wooden crosses upon which Australian school children inscribed commemorative messages. These were then placed on Australian graves across the former Western Front battlefields of Belgium and France by Australians on Anzac and Remembrance Day.

The Australian War Memorial will broaden this initiative over the centenary years, 2014–18. It plans to draw on the commemorative experiences of school children visiting the Memorial by capturing, in the students’ own words, their individual reflections on those Australians who have sacrificed their lives in war and other conflicts. These thoughts will take the form of short messages on small wooden crosses, which the Memorial – working with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), will arrange to be laid throughout the centenary period on Australian war graves and memorials. This will occur in countries such as Turkey, France, Belgium, Malaysia, Singapore, Greece, South Africa, and the Middle East.

First World War gallery redevelopment

The unveiling of the Memorial’s newly developed First World War Galleries formed a key part of the Memorial’s commemorations for the centenary of the First World War. The new galleries will meet the needs and expectations of a contemporary audience through the integration of technology and a chronological approach to the presentation of the war.

The galleries will commemorate the extensive losses Australia suffered in this war while explaining the context in which they occurred. The Memorial’s iconic First World War dioramas will return and more than 1,600 items from the National Collection will be on display.

The new galleries were officially opened on 22 February 2015. See images of the launch on our Flickr page.

BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities has generously donated $1 million to the Australian War Memorial towards the new First World War Galleries.

Indigenous commemoration

The Australian War Memorial is committed to the commemoration of the service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. As part of this commitment the Memorial is producing a list of Indigenous personnel who served in the First World War, whose stories will be incorporated throughout the new galleries.

Along with the Australian National University, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and the Australian Defence Force, the Memorial is also involved with the “Serving Our Country” project, a history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service in the ADF.

The Memorial is providing input to approximately 15 documentaries and programs focusing on Indigenous service, and will continue working with the Department of Defence, Reconciliation Australia, and various other state and territory agencies and galleries in carrying out their Indigenous commemorative activities.

The Memorial will also assist various regional organisations with their commemorative programs.

Read more about the planned projects here.

The Memorial – documentary to air on FOXTEL

Since late 2013 a documentary crew has been filming the work and collections of the Australian War Memorial as it prepares for the Centenary of the First World War. The series has been commissioned by the History Channel (Foxtel Networks Australia) and is their biggest local undertaking to date. The History Channel has commissioned the production company Eyeworks TV Australia to make a five-part observational series, which is being presented by internationally renowned historian Neil Oliver. This film will take the viewers behind the scenes to explore the work being undertaken by the Memorial in the build-up to the centenary, follow the redevelopment of the First World War Galleries, and investigate Australian military history.

The series went to air on the History Channel on 4 November 2014.

Memorial lighting

The Memorial is upgrading the Main Building external lighting to highlight and enhance interpretation of the key symbolic and architectural features of the Memorial site.
The project will ensure that technical, safety, and energy efficiency requirements for lighting are met.

Centenary projects 2015

Lone Pine commemorative sculpture

On 27 December 2008 a large branch fell from the Memorial’s Lone Pine Tree during a storm. Part of this branch was salvaged in order to commission the creation of a commemorative sculpture. This sculpture, based on the Gallipoli story, will provide an evocative and direct link between the past and present and become a unique item within the Memorial’s collection. The Memorial’s Lone Pine was grown from a pine cone sent back after the bloody battle of Lone Pine by a soldier to his mother. He removed it from a log over the Turkish trenches where he had found his dead brother.

Gallipoli 1915: a century on conference

An international conference hosted by the Australian War Memorial and the Australian National University was held at Llewellyn Hall, Australian National University, Canberra on 18-20 March 2015.

The Gallipoli campaign of 1915 was one of the most controversial campaigns of the First World War. The major allied powers aimed to shorten the war by eliminating Turkey as an enemy power but the campaign ended in complete failure and over 140,000 allied casualties.

One hundred years later, the myths of the Gallipoli campaign still generate debate over strategy and planning, real or illusory opportunities for success, and causes of failure. The campaign involved military and naval forces from many nations around the world, and the lingering memory of Gallipoli continues to play a central role in the national narratives of Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey.

On the centenary of the Gallipoli landings the Australian War Memorial joined with the Australian National University to host this major international conference. Leading historians from all the countries who contributed forces to the campaign presented their most current perspectives on the many faces of the Gallipoli campaign.

Themes covered include:

  • The planning and conduct of the campaign on land and at sea
  • The impact of Gallipoli on the societies involved
  • Myth, memory, and nationalism
  • The legacies and heritage of the Gallipoli peninsula
  • Gallipoli today

Anzac Day 2015

In the lead-up to Anzac Day, images from our rich archive will be projected onto the front of the Memorial over the week preceding 25 April and throughout the weekend.

Prior to the commencement of the Dawn Service, speakers will read extracts from letters and diaries of service personnel. The traditional format for the Dawn Service will be maintained.

The traditional format for the National Ceremony will also be maintained, and the march will take a similarly traditional approach in 2015. Large-technology objects, such as the Bushmasters and ASLAVs, will be incorporated into displays on the Memorial’s site.

Visitors will be able to attend the National Ceremony, which concludes at approximately 12.15 pm (AEST), and have lunch or view the galleries at the Memorial before watching the live broadcast of the Gallipoli Dawn Service, which will be televised on a large LED screen in the Memorial’s grounds.

In line with the Memorial’s mission and purpose, the strategic framework for scheduling the Last Post Ceremonies links personal stories with key military history dates. Suitable stories are currently being researched and scheduled for the First World War commemorative period. It is proposed that a personal story from the 25 April landing on Gallipoli will feature on Anzac Day. Out of respect for our wartime enemy, the story of a young Turkish soldier will also be told and his image similarly displayed.\

Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience

The Australian Government and the Australian War Memorial, supported by the Commonwealth Bank and Telstra are proud to be bringing the Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience to communities across Australia.

The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience is the flagship community event of the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary national programme. Find out more about the Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience.

Anzac Centenary Print Portfolio

To mark the centenary of the First World War, the Australian War Memorial commissioned the Anzac Centenary Print Portfolio. Featuring work by five Australian and five New Zealand artists, the portfolio explores the Anzac legacy and commemoration in a contemporary context. Artists have been asked to respond creatively to the history and legacy of the war, as well as to the significance of the Centenary to both countries. It is intended that this trans-national exchange reflect a diversity of artistic perspectives and constitute an important cultural response to this key historical event.

Commemorative tapestry commission

In November 2014 the Australian Tapestry Workshop Director, Antonia Syme and Australian War Memorial Director, Dr Brendan Nelson announced the commencement of a significant new First World War commemorative tapestry commission based on a painting by Australian artist, Imants Tillers (b.1950) for the Australian War Memorial.

The tapestry, titled Avenue of Remembrance, has been commissioned by the Memorial and made possible through a generous donation from the Geoff and Helen Handbury Foundation.

Other ongoing projects 2014-2018

Battlefield tours

Battlefield tours, conducted by Boronia Travel, tour the ridges and beaches of the Gallipoli peninsula and the battlefields of the Western Front. They offer a unique opportunity to visit the locations at which Australian soldiers served in the First World War.

The tours are led by Memorial curators and historians, experts on the Gallipoli and Western Front campaigns. Participants are accompanied by an expert tour manager, fluent in the local language and familiar with local history and customs.

Memorial merchandising

The Memorial will sell its own range of centenary merchandise over the Anzac centenary period. This merchandise will be available through selected retailers around Australia, at the Memorial shop and through its website. Australia Post will release a range of stamps featuring iconic images from the National Collection and bearing the Memorial centenary logo. A select range of associated merchandise will also be available in post offices throughout Australia.

In partnership with the Royal Australian Mint the Memorial has created commemorative coins that will be available for purchase over the next five years. The coins feature the Memorial’s centenary logo and highlight the various aspects of Australia’s involvement in conflict. The Perth Mint will also release commemorative coins in association with the Memorial over the four-year period.

In addition, the Memorial has partnered with Brown Trout calendars to release two Anzac Centenary calendars in 2015, which will be on sale worldwide.

National loans

The Memorial is facilitating a number of significant loans to regional, state, and national institutions. We have committed to assisting major institutions like the Shrine of Remembrance, the Australian National Maritime Museum, the National Gallery of Victoria, and Museum Victoria, as well as continuing a loans program to other institutions. Examples of the types of loans are as follows:

  • Shrine of Remembrance, Victoria

A number of objects will be loaned to support the redevelopment of the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. The most significant of these collection items is the Devanha boat, one of the original lifeboats used to land troops on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.

  • Works of art for parliamentary offices

Significant works of art and photographs will be loaned to a range of federal and state government parliamentary offices to promote awareness of the First World War centenary and to extend access to the Memorial’s collection during this important commemorative period.

  • Anzac Interpretive Centre, Albany, Western Australia

Initiated by the Australian government and coordinated by the Western Australian Museum, the Anzac Interpretive Centre will provide a new way for visitors to experience an emotional connection with the men and women involved in the First World War while understanding the sacrifice of individuals and the nation. The Australian War Memorial has committed to providing a large number of objects to the exhibition for limited fees as well as a multitude of images and AV material.

  • Australian National Maritime Museum, New South Wales

Works of art and objects from the Memorial’s collection are being provided to support a major travelling exhibition being developed by the Australian National Maritime Museum.

International outreach

  • Collaboration with the Canadian War Museum

Prime Minister the Hon. Tony Abbott MP has announced that the Memorial will be collaborating with the Canadian War Museum to build an exhibition for 2017 that focuses on dominions of the British Empire. As a token of our intention, the Australian War Memorial has loaned a trench sign bearing the name “Medicine Hat Trail” (after the town in Alberta, Canada) from its collection for display in the exhibition.

The Memorial will be loaning the Menin Gate Lions and Will Longstaff’s iconic artwork Menin Gate at midnight to the Canadian War Museum in late 2014 for their upcoming exhibition, Iron Harvest.

  • Exhibition to be held at Australian Embassy, Washington DC

The Memorial has agreed to a request from the Embassy of Australia in Washington DC to host a First World War centenary exhibition displaying 100 years of official war art. The exhibition is to be co-curated by the embassy and the Memorial. Venues in Chicago, Kansas, and Hawaii have also expressed interest in hosting the exhibition.

  • Commitment to the Interpretive Centre at Villers-Bretonneux

The Prime Minister announced in May 2014 of the Australian government’s commitment of $6.9 million for a Western Front Interpretive Centre to be established at Villers-Bretonneux in France through loans and other in-kind knowledge-sharing forums.

  • Loan of Menin Gate Lions to city of Ypres and Belgian/Flanders governments garden project

In 2009 the Flemish and Australian governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation between Australia and Belgium to mark the Centenary of the First World War. As part of this cooperation, the Australian War Memorial will loan the Menin Gate Lions to Ypres from mid-April to November 2017. The lions were originally given to Australia in 1935 by the city of Ypres in recognition of the service of Australians in Belgium during the First World War. They had originally stood either side of the Menin Gate on the medieval wall around Ypres. Almost every one of the Australians who served on the Ypres Salient would have marched between the lions at some point. The statues will be taken back to Ypres and placed on the Menin Road, immediately in front of the gate. We are also exploring with the Flemish government a proposal to build a garden at the Memorial in Canberra that incorporates soil from Belgium. Gardens like this have been established in London, with children from Belgium collecting the soil for transportation to England.

  • Australian Remembrance Trail

The Australian government, through the Office of Australian War Graves, has contributed to the development of the Australian Remembrance Trail, including via the loan of objects to museums and galleries along the Western Front. A number of institutions have also received duplicates of prints held in the Memorial’s collection for display in their own galleries.

More projects to be added as they are announced