Ortelia was engaged by the Australia War Memorial for the development and delivery of the entire project. This encompassed 3D modelling, real-time environment creation and back-end web editor/publisher development. As Charles Bean returned from the war in 1919 his vision of how the Australian “war memorial museum” would look is captured in a single sketch. The building, an imposing neo-classical structure, would serve to house the war memorial collection and provide a place to understand the experiences of the Australian soldiers as well as a place to grieve for those fallen. The building would have been comprised of a huge central gallery housing the Roll of Honour and large collection items. On either side large wings would be used to showcase different collections. One wing would house a dedicated gallery presenting history paintings commissioned from official war artists. These paintings would depict the Australian experience of the First World War.
Charles Bean, Sketch proposing what Australia’s national memorial might look like, 1919, Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial File AWM170, 1/1
It was another 20 years before the memorial was realised, and was vastly different in both the architecture and the collection housed to that envisioned by Bean. The Australian War Memorial partnered with Ortelia Interactive Spaces to present Bean’s vision for the memorial. Ortelia Interactive Spaces worked very closely with our Australian War Memorial partners and stakeholders to bring Bean’s vision of the memorial to life as an online 3D navigable building. The building houses the Memorial’s art and photography collections. The art housed in this collection has been presented as closely as possible according to Bean’s original curatorial vision in the ‘East Wing’ of the building. The Memorial’s First World War history paintings can be seen as they were intended to be displayed for the first time. The Western wing houses the Memorial’s Australian Official War Pictures and Photographs exhibition that was staged by Captain Frank Hurley at the Grafton Galleries in London in May 1918. The photography exhibition includes interactive photographic displays detailing the collage and masking techniques Hurley employed to compose his photographs. In addition to the display of the the Memorial’s art and photography, users are able to view the artists original field sketches within a integrated map environment in order to explore the landscapes and artists journeys that inspired the artworks. The map based user interface provides additional insights into the roles and everyday activities of the official war artists, as well as how each major painting was created. The mapping environment allows visitors to compare historical depictions with present day satellite imagery and photography of the same locations. This integrated web-based 3D environment allows users to engage with First World War history online. Over 600 works of art including paintings, photographs and sketches and associated information are available for viewing within the environment. This project represents a powerful and engaging way to bring back-of-house collections to the public whilst increasing organisational presence and profile. The project was officially launched on November 9th 2017 and can be viewed on the Memorial’s website here.