The government has committed $498m to a major new expansion of the Australian War Memorial.
CAPTION: Artist’s impression of the Australian War Memorial expansion. AWM image.
Australian War Memorial officials put a detailed proposal to the government to fund a major redevelopment of the galleries and precinct, and create a guiding vision for the next 50 years – which the government has now committed to fund.
Redevelopment works 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 across Australia, 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.
The AWM web site says the proposal is justified because just a fraction of the Memorial’s collection is currently on display and 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.
Plus, 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.
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.
No timeframe for commencement of building works has been announced.