Thank you and goodbye

31 August 2012 by Marylou Pooley

Steve Gower.  Photo courtesy of Silas Brown

After more than 16 years as Director of the Australian War Memorial Steve Gower AO AO (Mil) retires on Friday 31 August 2012.

“On behalf of the Council, staff and volunteers at the Memorial, I pay tribute to Steve for his visionary and inspirational leadership. His extraordinary talents have guided the Memorial for more than a decade and a half,” said Rear Admiral Ken Doolan AO RAN (Ret'd), Chairman of the Council of the Australian War Memorial.

“The Memorial has thrived under his directorship. Steve’s energy and vision have helped to extend its reputation as a world-class museum and a revered national site of commemoration”.

“Steve’s legacy to the nation is one of a renewed vision for the Memorial, firmly establishing its place in the hearts of so many Australians.”

Steve Gower was appointed Director of the Memorial in March 1996, following an outstanding career in the Australian Army, where he reached the rank of Major General. He saw active service in Vietnam as an artillery forward observer.

As Memorial Director, Steve led the redevelopment of many of the Memorial’s exhibition galleries, including the Second World War galleries, Aircraft Hall, the Hall of Valour, and the Conflicts 1945 to today galleries, as well as the construction of ANZAC Hall, the CEW Bean Building, the creation of the Sculpture Garden, and the award-winning redevelopment of the Eastern Precinct, which features the National Service Memorial. 

Steve was also instrumental in the Memorial being inducted into the Australian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame in 2003.

Other substantial contributions include those to the broader Canberra community and, at the national level, to the Australian tourism and museum industries. Steve has held the positions of Chair of the Council of Australian Museum Directors (2000–04); member of the Executive Board for Museum Management, International Council of Museums (2001–07); Chair of the Board, Canberra Convention Bureau; patron of ACT Cricket; and honorary ambassador for Canberra. In 2006, Steve received a tourism industry award recognising the outstanding contribution by an individual.

Steve has been on personal carer’s leave since November 2011. Nola Anderson has been Acting Director during this time and will continue acting in the role until December 2012 when the Hon Dr Brendan Nelson takes up the position.

Read more of Steve Gower’s time at the Australian War Memorial in a recent Wartime article.