Friday 31 August 2012 by Marylou Pooley. 4 comments

Steve Gower.  Photo courtesy of Silas Brown 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.


Robyn Hendry

Steve has made an extraordinary contribution to the Australian War Memorial, ACT Tourism and the Canberra Convention Bureau.It has been both an honour and a pleasure working along side the great achievments of the Australian War Memorial, under Steve's dynamic leadership. On behalf of the Board, members and all the team at the Canberra Convention Bureau we convey our appreciation and extend our best wishes to Steve and family. Warm regards Robyn Hendry, CEO Canberra Convention Bureau.


Thanks to Steve. That was a long time and I grew to love to read your entry passage to wartime mag each quarter. I hope you can maybe write some article for wartime in future so your experience is not lost and we still hear from you! Thanks to all at the Australian War Memorial as it would have to be the greatest war memorial website and museum in the world. Cheers

C. Dujardin

I am a Belgian historian interested in the WW1 Australian soldiers in the Charleroi's area. Twice, I was lucky to meet Dr Brendan Nelson as Ambassador to Belgium and European Union. He will be soon the new Director of the Australian War Memorial and I think he is the right man in the right place. The man is sympathetic and very attentive about the Australians soldiers who fought on the Western Front. He is a "dinkum Aussie". I wish him good luck in his new job as Director.

C. Dujardin

I wish to thank the Australian War Memorial for all the Records and War Diaries that are so precious when you are a Belgian historian and you need information for a research. I also wish to thank all those who helped me when I had a question about the WW1 Australian soldiers.