WALL TAKES ON LIFE OF ITS OWN

It’s not often museum staff let visitors ignore the rules, but that is just what is happening at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery’s Great War Sacrifice and Shadows exhibition in Launceston.

WALL TAKES ON LIFE OF ITS OWN

It’s not often museum staff let visitors ignore the rules, but that is just what is happening at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery’s Great War Sacrifice and Shadows exhibition in Launceston. And the staff think it’s great.

The museum installed a mural wall as part of its 2014-2018 exhibition to remember Tasmanians who served in the Great War. For a small donation to charity visitors could pin a poppy to the mural and add a message in a nearby collection box. At least that was the plan. Instead people penned heartfelt tributes and pinned these to the mural with their poppies.  The effect was so moving staff refused to remove the notes and over time the mural filled with thousands of remembrance tributes and poppies.

QVMAG History Curator Jon Addison says visitors have responded to the Poppy wall with incredible enthusiasm and sincerity.

“There have been some unique and heart-warming responses to the poppy wall,” he said. “One family purchased a number of poppies, and then took them home, along with some note paper. They then returned with all the poppies pinned with their notes to a length of rope. The rope documented their family's record of military service, not just in the First World War, but in other contexts, providing a tangible link between the Great War and today.”

The wall has raised thousands of dollars for charities and increased awareness of the work many do to support veterans.

Canberra-based company BrandNet, which runs military shops for all services and works closely with veteran charities, donated the first 1,000 poppies to kick of the QVMAG’s fundraising. Company Director Stephen Davie said he believed the interactive wall was always going to draw a strong community response.

“Even before the museum launched its exhibition in 2014 we released the Australia in the Great War commemorative program to help all Australians engage in the Great War Centenary,” Stephen said. “This is probably the most significant anniversary in our history in that it remembers a time that would come to help define us a nation.”

“The Australia in the Great War program included interactive poppy wall murals especially for schools and community organisations.  Not everyone has the resources to design and create their own murals so we created a small range of beautiful artworks that allow people to write messages of remembrance or to pin poppies.

“The feedback we get is that people of all ages want to show their respect and these the murals are a great way to let them do just that.”

Stephen says people who can get to Tasmania to see the QVMAG exhibition would not be disappointed. The exhibition, which was opened by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, also includes a range of stories and artefacts that share the Tasmanian Great War experience.

From Tasmania’s population of around 100,000 men and 97,000 women in 1914, some 15,000 served in the war. Almost 2,500 gave their lives.  The QVMAG exhibition will run till November 2018.

For those who want to find out more about creating their own poppy mural visit the Australia in the Great War.

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