Public Programs

Public Programs comprises exhibition programs, community programs, collections, education, volunteers, young ambassadors and sponsorship.

Shrine collection

The Shrine continues to collect selectively for display. This year, a diverse range of items was brought into the collection.

    • A substantial donation of 112 wartime propaganda posters spanning the First World War through to recent peacekeeping missions was gifted by the Australian War Memorial.
    • A reconstructed Beaufort Bomber gun turret was installed in the Galleries. The project was undertaken by the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre.
    • A unique hand-drawn trench map of Courtney's Post, Gallipoli sketched by Captain Stewart Hansen MC and dated 6 May 1915. Lieutenant Colonel Richard Courtney, commander of the 14th Battalion, is believed to have carried the map with him throughout the war and returned it to Hansen's parents on his return.
    • We also received a selection of works on paper by renowned artist Dean Bowen as part of the cultural gifts program.

Shrine exhibitions

The following special exhibitions provided in-depth exploration and alternative perspectives in support of the Shrine's broader programming. All our current special exhibitions have enjoyed an extended run due to the closures in 2020.

  • This exhibition showcases the work of photographer John Williams as he reflected on the impact of the First World War on Australian culture and society. It includes some of his most iconic images from his Anzac Day series, his War Portraits series, and a selection of works never exhibited in his lifetime.

  • Celebrated contemporary artist Dean Bowen explores the tragic story of the sinking of the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur on 14 May 1943. The exhibition features a specially commissioned animation of Bowen's charcoal drawings of the Centaur tragedy by Japanese visual artist Ayumi Sasaki. This digital work enabled audiences to get a taste of the exhibition online before visiting in person.

  • Immerses visitors in the visual world of three contemporary artists who explore their experience as modern-era veterans. Using painting, sculpture and street art, each artist interrogates notions of identity, dislocation and resilience. Art has not only become therapy for these recent veterans, but also a powerful voice to communicate with the wider community.

  • This touring exhibition presents incredible stories of human endurance and poignant personal narratives of loss and reconciliation. Stories of conflict and resettlement encompass the experiences of veterans and migrants who came to Australia seeking safety and peace.

    The exhibition spent 2020 in storage. In 2021 it has enjoyed strongly successful runs at Walker St Gallery, Dandenong; The Cube, Frankston; and Central Goldfields Art Gallery, Maryborough.

    There is strong interest in the exhibition and we have bookings throughout regional Victoria into mid-2023. As part of our move to digital engagement, many of the stories are now also available on the Shrine website

Student education

The Shrine’s student education programs are aligned with the national curriculum and engage students onsite in learning about commemoration, wartime history and the shaping of the Australian nation.

Education programming in 2020–21 diversified nimbly in the face of changing conditions. Virtual tours and workshops were successfully delivered to over 5,000 students in 2020. In 2021 we welcomed students onsite in reduced numbers to ensure safe operations. Over 16,000 students made an onsite visit in 2021.

Thanks to the generosity of the Portland House Foundation, excursions for 100 students and 10 community groups were funded allowing them to attend the Shrine’s touring exhibition.

School holiday activities for families

The focus on family activities this year has been the Shrine Kids activity cards. These provide families a series of activities to help them engage in an age-appropriate way. A successful social media campaign promoting the cards combined with a TV campaign saw an increase in families visiting us over the January and April holidays. We plan to return to guided tours and drop-in activities in upcoming holiday periods.

Public learning program

The Shrine maintained its commitment to provide community education of the highest standard. Public presentations and special events engaged members of the community in Melbourne and in regional Victoria through talks, workshops and lectures – primarily delivered through digital channels. A sustainable wreathmaking workshop marked the resumption of onsite public presentations. Attendees to lectures onsite were joined by audiences online via live stream, increasing audience engagement by 1,900 per cent.

Digital production

Digital programming was a major focus in 2020–21, the fluid restriction levels necessitating an innovative approach to content creation and delivery. During the Stage 4 lockdown, Second World War veterans were interviewed as part of the Victorian Government funded ‘World War II at Home’ project and curator’s talks on the Imagining Centaur exhibition and Beaufort aircraft manufacturing in Victoria were all live streamed and made available on digital platforms. A new ‘Places of Remembrance’ video series profiling the 321 memorials and memorial trees across the Shrine Reserve has also proved popular.

In November 2020, the Remembrance magazine launched as a digital-only magazine. Readership of our first digital issue has reached an audience greater than 1,500 people, exceeding the readership of the previous physical copy by at least 1,000 readers.


The Shrine volunteer program was suspended for much of 2020–21. Volunteers began returning to the Shrine in March 2021 to resume their normal activities: engaging visitors onsite, providing support to deliver the education and ceremonial programs and delivering talks to community groups – both onsite and offsite. Safety concerns caused some volunteers to delay their return. We maintain contact via newsletters and video conferencing.

The Shrine Young Ambassadors

The Shrine Young Ambassador program provides an opportunity for 10 students in years 9/10 to participate in programs and commemorative events at the Shrine and to develop leadership skills. We acknowledge their contributions in FY2021. Due to the extended closures in 2020, we invited the 2020 Young Ambassadors to serve another 12-month term. All but one were able to extend, and we welcomed one new Young Ambassador for 2021.

Reviewed 01 November 2021

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