The Australian War Memorial unlocked the doors to its storage hub in Mitchell on Saturday as the Big things in store open day returned for the first time in three years.
More than 4,100 visitors walked through the newly upgraded Treloar Technology Centre for a behind the scenes look at the Memorial’s extensive collection.
Visitors were treated to a rare opportunity to view one of the world’s largest collections of military relics, including a vast array of aircraft, rockets, vehicles, tanks, and artillery used by – or against – Australians during more than a century of conflict and peacekeeping activities.
New acquisitions on display included a Lockheed AP–3C Orion aircraft, a Kiowa helicopter, a Fairey Firefly carrier-borne aircraft, a Westland Wessex helicopter and an F-111c supersonic swing-wing jet.
Head of Military Heraldry and Technology Nick Fletcher said there are around 700,000 objects in the Memorial’s collection, but only about 20,000 objects are on display at the Memorial itself at any one time.
“Big things in store allows people of all ages to see some of the larger objects, from veterans who have a tangible connection to a piece of military equipment on display, to young Australians who may have never seen these kinds of objects before,” Mr Fletcher said.
“The F-111C acquired by the Memorial earlier this year, for example, is the only remaining aircraft of its kind to have taken part in reconnaissance missions over East Timor (Timor–Leste) in 1999. It is a significant part of the story of Australia’s military history, and we’re pleased to have been able to show it to so many people today.”
While the bulk of the Treloar Technology Centre is dedicated to the storage of large heavy objects, it also includes smaller items such as artworks, uniforms, flags, and military equipment. This collection spans centuries, and includes artillery pieces dating from the mid-1870s.
Memorial curators were on hand to discuss the background of the objects on display, helping to shed light on the stories that go with them.
“Events like Big things in store allow people to gain a deeper understanding of our nation’s military history, and its importance to the evolution of our national character,” Mr Fletcher said.
“We are always keen to give the public further opportunities to engage with our collection.”
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