Shrine collection

The Shrine continues to collect selectively for display. Our current collection priority areas include capturing the experience of all service personnel from Vietnam to the present day, personal letters, diaries, audio-visual records and mementoes relating to recent conflicts. Further development of these areas will enhance the overall collection and help to further reflect the diversity of the Australian and Victorian experience both at war and home.

    • Two First World War sketches by Arthur Streeton: Streeton produced the drawings while serving as an official war artist with the A.I.F in France during 1918.
    • A three-part commemorative quilt created to mark the centenary of the First World War. The quilt was designed by Reverend Wendy Snook and quilted by Jeanette Clark with assistance from members of Cranbourne United Patchworks. Reverend Snook is herself a veteran of modern-era service.
    • Following the exhibition Dean Bowen: Imagining Centaur, artist Dean Bowen gifted 13 charcoal drawings produced for the exhibition and three oil paintings inspired by the stories of Australian medical services in the armed forces.
    • The Corporal Adam Burke collection was a welcome addition this year comprising uniform, photos and memorabilia of his time as a military policeman in Timor Leste with the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police.

Shrine exhibitions

The following special exhibitions aligned with the 2022 'Identity’ exhibition theme provided in-depth exploration and alternative perspectives in support of the Shrine's broader programming.

  • The complex issues surrounding relationships during wartime are explored in this visually stunning exhibition. Through artworks, photography, and personal objects the exhibition explores the issues of love, lust and loss for both service personnel and those loved ones at home. The exhibition is supported by a series of conversations with contemporary couples on their own experiences juggling relationships and careers in defence.

  • The history of First People’s service in the Australian Defence Force. The veterans featured in this exhibition come from Countries that lie in the modern state of Victoria, as well as individuals from other areas making Victoria their home. Using portraits sourced from veterans and their families, the Australian War Memorial, Koorie Heritage Trust and the Shrine’s own collection, images are displayed in country groupings. Supported by a series of interviews with veterans and families, we get a sense of the impact of service on families and individuals.

  • 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. Enjoyed an extended run due to pandemic public health restictions in 2021.

  • This touring exhibition presents incredible stories of conflict and resettlement encompassing the experiences of veterans and migrants who came to Australia seeking safety and peace. The exhibition spent the balance of 2021 in storage, with scheduled venues impacted by both the pandemic and storms in Victoria. The exhibition opened on 1 April 2022 in Swan Hill at the Regional Art Gallery and enjoyed strong attendances. A well-attended opening was held at Pyramid Hill in June 2022 at the Memorial Hall. Over 100 people attended the launch with the event catered by the local Filipino community. A range of community events and floor talks were held, culminating in an event for Refugee Week. Schools in the region also visited the exhibition, with over 200 students engaged in education programs. The exhibition is travelling to Charlton, Sea Lake, Colac, Longwood and Portland for the rest of 2022.

Student education

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

Education programming in 2021–22 was truncated by pandemic health restrictions with programming delivered both onsite and virtually. Virtual tours and workshops were successfully delivered to over 1,700 students. Onsite visitation was initially slow with students numbers growing from March 2022; more than 26,000 students made an onsite visit in 2022.

Thanks to the generosity of the Portland House Foundation, education programs were offered to more than 500 students to attend the touring exhibition.

Activities for families

We engaged families in a combination of self-guided and guided activities this year. During the latter part of 2021, a self-guided walking trail around the Shrine following a ‘Duffy the Donkey’ image on the pavement was designed to engage families whilst we were closed. The Shrine Kids activity cards remained available as an option for visiting families.

The first face-to-face program was offered in the April school holidays. The ‘Trees of Memory’ program encouraged families to take a walk around the Reserve and to return to the art table in the Visitor Centre to make their own memorial tree. It was a well-attended program with scores of trees affixed to a large mural on display in the Visitor Centre.

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. This year we used a hybrid approach with some digital and some in-person events. Our first onsite event in 2022 was a delayed book launch for A Week in September, by Peter Rees and Sue Langford, held on Valentine’s Day. This was well attended and linked to theming of the exhibition, Lust Love Loss. The other well attended onsite event was a talk and Last Post Service relating to our Beaufort Bomber exhibit. Visitors had the chance to hear from a range of speakers on the importance of the Beaufort to the war effort and what service in Beaufort aircraft continues to mean to descendants.

Digital production

Digital programming continued as a large part of our offering, especially in the first half of 2021–22. Once again, all services were livestreamed, including Remembrance Day. In a first for the Shrine, we produced a livestreamed event in conjunction with the Polish Institute of National Remembrance. The event centred around the experience of Australian and Polish troops at Tobruk in the Second World War and the continuing friendship between the two nations.

Other notable productions were a podcast series produced by broadcaster Megan Spencer featuring stories related to our current exhibitions. An interview with Doug Heywood following the A Week in September book launch and an extended interview with Dr Tony Clark on the Beaufort Bomber story. A series of four interviews for Anzac Day featuring Vietnam veteran reflections was well received across our digital channels and was also played onsite in the Visitor Centre.

Our second issue of Remembrance digital magazine was released in November 2021. Readership was strong with the most popular article being about the unsung workers who helped build the Shrine during the Depression.


The Shrine volunteer program was in hiatus for the first six months of the year. Most volunteers remained connected via online training, newsletters and online catch ups returning to the Shrine in January 2022 to resume their normal schools and visitor engagement activities. National Volunteer Week 2022 was marked with a celebratory afternoon tea including entertainment provided by a swing dancing quartet. The first recruitment of volunteers since 2019 has taken place with 12 new volunteers joining the program in June 2022. Of this group, one is a former Young Ambassador returning as an adult volunteer. This replenishment of the cohort is important as over the last two years we have farewelled over 20 volunteers.

The Shrine Young Ambassadors

The Shrine Young Ambassador program provides an opportunity for up to 10 students in Years 9/10 to participate in programs and commemorative events at the Shrine and to develop leadership skills. This year we have nine Young Ambassadors and we acknowledge their contributions in 2022. We said goodbye in December 2021 to a group who had a very disrupted two-year tenure due to the pandemic.

Reviewed 06 April 2023

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