“Will they remember me in Australia?” a mortally wounded Australian asked Australia’s official First World War correspondent, Charles Bean during the bloody battle of Pozières in 1916. Bean later conceived of and resolved to build what is now the Australian War Memorial. More than 70,000 young Australians who have served in our nation’s wars, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations over the past 20 years, may very well ask themselves the same question.

Since opening in 1941, the Australian War Memorial has recognised, honoured, and told the stories of our defence force personnel and their experiences in war, peacekeeping, and humanitarian operations.

Located in line of sight of Parliament House, the Memorial reminds the nation of the cost of war, and the effects of service. It tells stories of love and friendship, selflessness, courage, and endurance, as well as being a space where veterans and their families can come to terms with the effects of their service.

To ensure that the Memorial can continue to honour those Australians who lost their lives in war, a plan has been developed. Watch this video to see an artist’s impression of the future Australian War Memorial. 

The redevelopment plan

The Memorial has developed a detailed proposal to the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia to fund a major redevelopment of the Memorial’s galleries and precinct, and create a guiding vision for the next 50 years.

The Memorial’s ability to tell the stories of those men and women who serve in Australia’s Defence forces has reached its limits. There is not enough space to inform the public of recent conflicts and operations and what is happening now. Significant redevelopment is required to improve the experience and understanding of our visitors by increasing gallery space and improving amenities.

What will change?

The proposed redevelopment will significantly increase exhibition and public program space in order to more substantially tell the stories of current and recent conflicts, operations, peacekeeping, and humanitarian missions. It will include a new temporary exhibition space; improved visitor orientation, wayfinding, and amenities; areas for respite and reflection; new education facilities; a theatre and functions space; a quiet area for reflection; a space to be used by veterans’ organisations; and two electronic displays, one displaying the myriad of community memorials, and another presenting current defence activity.

The proposal features an extension to the Bean Building on the eastern side of the precinct to integrate research collections and services, additional exhibition space added to Anzac Hall, and optimisation of exhibition space in the main Memorial building. Sensitively connected to the existing landscape, the detailed plans will ensure the original heritage façade remains unchanged.

Artist impression of future Australian War Memorial
Artist impression of future Australian War Memorial
Artist impression of future Australian War Memorial

Artist impressions of future Australian War Memorial. Contact our Media team for high resolution images.

Why is a redevelopment needed?

Just a fraction of the Memorial’s collection is currently on display. The stories of Australian military service from the Boer War through to the First and Second World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam are largely told in crowded galleries. The service of 70,000 Australians in the Middle East Area of operations over the past two decades currently occupies only 2 per cent of available space.

Visitor numbers, including former and current serving veterans are increasing. We have the opportunity and responsibility to tell their stories; the stories of peacekeeping and humanitarian operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Solomon Islands, and East Timor; and the stories of families who love and support servicemen and servicewomen. We must tell these stories now, not years or decades after they have occurred.

In their words

Within its galleries, the Memorial tells the stories of those who serve in Australia’s military forces, including those who have died as a result of war, warlike operations, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

Hear from some of Australia's current and former service personnel and their families about what the Australian War Memorial means to them.

Clifford and Elizabeth Brown

Corporal Andrew Wastell

Warrant Officer Benjamin Sime MG

Dave Sabben MG

Lieutenant Colonel Deborah Warren-Smith

Doug and Kaye Baird

Yvonne and Felix Sher

Hugh and Janny Poate

Rear Admiral James Goldrick (Retd)

Jason Safaric

Nicole and Hannah Pearce

Rear Admiral Steve Gilmore AM CSC (Retd)

Stakeholder Consultation

The Memorial recently conducted an eight week stakeholder consultation process (2 August - 26 September 2018) seeking feedback on the proposed redevelopment.

The consultation centred on the following key themes:

Theme 1: A place for veterans and their families
Theme 2: Precinct priorities
Theme 3: The visitor experience
Theme 4: Telling more stories to more people
Theme 5: Future 50 – commemoration, museum and research themes

A series of public workshops and forums were held across Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin and Townsville. A dedicated email address, webpage and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn) also enabled stakeholders to provide written feedback. A summary report will be publicly available by mid-December 2018.