Federal budget 2017: War Memorial and Museum think big with budget funding boost

Federal budget 2017: War Memorial and Museum think big with budget funding boost

Canberra's Australian War Memorial could have an additional 5000 square metres of exhibition space within a decade, as $5 million in funding from Tuesday's federal budget goes to planning for an expansion under the landmark's historic forecourt.

Acting director Tim Sullivan said the initial business case for the expansion of exhibition areas would see better use of some existing areas and storage facilities as well as planning for Afghanistan and Iraq war galleries, set to showcase military equipment including a Chinook helicopter, a Seahawk aircraft and two F/A18s.

Acting Australian War Memorial director Tim Sullivan in the Conflicts 1945 to today exhibtion space.

Acting Australian War Memorial director Tim Sullivan in the Conflicts 1945 to today exhibtion space.

Photo: Jamila Toderas

The plan - likely to include development over more than six or seven years - would also allow enhanced visitor amenity and facilities for school visits and new reflection areas for families of Australia's war dead.

"Everyone should be assured there will be minimal impact on the external presentation of the memorial. The heritage building will not be changed in its exterior perspective," Mr Sullivan said.


"We're looking to get the first pass business case done as soon as we can, with the second business case to include a fully fledged concept with costings and documentation ready to go to tender for construction."

He said the memorial could think about its long term future because of the budget funding, paying tribute to Australians serving overseas today and in future conflicts.

The National Museum of Australia will take inspiration from the success of its recent programs when spending $2.29 million of its extra budget funding over three years.

Tuesday's budget included the funding for the museum's programs and services, part of $8.2 million for national institutions from money set aside in a public service modernisation fund announced last year.

Museum director Mathew Trinca said the funding would let it consider extra events and build on the success of recent exhibitions including A History of the World in 100 Objects.

"That's important because it will allow us to take forward programs and opportunities for the public that would otherwise be impossible," Dr Trinca said.

The museum will also get $8.9 million over three years from the modernisation fund to share corporate and business services with Canberra's other national institutions.

"We get both the material benefit of working together but we get also a cultural benefit from being closely aligned on these corporate functions that allows us to focus on our public services," Dr Trinca said.

The National Museum, which will grow by three staff members next year, expects its own-source revenue to drop slightly to $6.71 million in 2017-2018 but is forecasting this to rise over the next three years.

A spokeswoman for the National Gallery of Australia welcomed a four-year funding allocation of $1.887 million, set to go to ongoing operating costs.

The National Portrait Gallery received nearly $700,000 in additional funding over three years through the Public Service Modernisation Fund. The money will support delivery of core services, including online initiatives, education programs and new exhibitions.

Doug Dingwall is a reporter for The Canberra Times covering the public service and politics.

Tom McIlroy is a political reporter for the Financial Review in the federal press gallery at Parliament House.

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