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AWM begins Oculus glass installation

Australian War Memorial begins Oculus glass installation, Australian War Memorial, 8 July 2024

Installation of glass has begun at the Oculus above the new southern entrance of the Australian War Memorial. The glass has completed its long sea voyage from Spain, and is carefully being inserted into the Oculus’s steel frame.

The southern entrance is part of the Development program at the Australian War Memorial, sitting beneath the heritage entrance of the 83-year-old building. In the midst of the new southern entrance sits the Oculus, through which visitors will see the Australian War Memorial Hall of Memory dome beyond. The shape of the Oculus is an inversion of that dome, and the space below will orientate visitors, providing views up to the dome and main building. Cast into the floor beneath the Oculus are the 15 values from the stained glass windows in the Hall of Memory.

The Oculus consists of a steel frame, manufactured in Melbourne, with glass inserts made in specialist facilities in Spain. The glass was measured to fit precisely into the framing ‘petals’ of the Oculus structure; each ‘petal’ of glass weighs 350 kg.

“The arrival of the glass for the Oculus is the result of five years of planning and design work,” Australian War Memorial Director Matt Anderson said. “The inverted dome of the Oculus complements the heritage value of the original building, while the southern entrance allows for accessible, weatherproof and safe access to the Memorial for visitors.”

The glass was unloaded on the Memorial forecourt and placed precisely into position by a crane fitted with suction cups to lift the glass. Workers will spend the coming weeks carefully inserting each ‘petal’ of glass into the steel Oculus frame.

“Once complete, the heritage and southern entrances will lead visitors directly to the Commemorative Area of the Memorial,” Matt Anderson said. “The War Memorial is not just a museum but a place for solemn commemoration and remembrance of those who have given their lives for their country. The new entrance brings that commemoration to the forefront of the visitor experience.”

The lower southern entry will be approached from both the east and the west car parks, and will provide easy access to the Memorial. The southern entry will also house the Memorial gift shop, and space for public and private functions. The film “Places of Pride” will be play there, featuring war memorials from across the country that reflect the diversity of commemoration in Australia.

The familiar heritage entrance at the top of the stairs will re-open in September this year, followed by activation of the new southern entrance over the summer period.

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