Sir John Monash Centre

Client: Department of Veterans Affairs Location: Villers-Bretonneux, France Completed: 2018 Photography: John Gollings
Following an international design competition Convergence was awarded the interpretative design commission for the $100 million Sir John Monash Centre (SJMC), which will be a lasting legacy of the Centenary of Anzac. The SJMC was envisaged as a completely new type of interpretative centre, relying on a leading edge multimedia experience to tell the story of Australia’s involvement on the Western Front during WW1. Convergence responded to this part of the brief by developing multiple multimedia presentations supported by a site specific app combined with low energy Bluetooth beacons. This specially designed and developed technology locates visitors within the Centre and personalises the experience by prompting media to react to a visitor’s presence and preselected choices of language and tour presentation. The broader interpretative design tasks included definition of the visitor journey, design of the built form, historical research, curation and conceptualisation and direction of the multimedia experiences. Above all, Convergence conceived the SJMC as an experiential centre, one in which a sense of people and place is paramount. The visitor experience and interpretation throughout is based on a physical and emotional journey leading to an understanding of the nature of the site on which the Centre is built and a personal engagement with the experiences of the men and women who served on the Western Front. Convergence’s interpretative design for the Sir John Monash Centre is both physical and technological and uses immersive and emotive elements to deliver a compelling visitor experience, underpinned by meticulous research by our team of historians and curators.

To truly appreciate John Monash, and more than 46,000 Australians who gave their lives for us out here on the Western Front – we need to stretch the boundaries of our imagination and see this landscape as they did.

Prime Minister of Australia the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP

We cannot relive these stories ,.. the mud, the rats, the lice, the gas, the shellfire, the fallen comrades — we can never truly imagine what it was like. So we must tell them. We must show them — again and again. Show it with the help of modern technology, without taking our eyes off the names etched onto the memorial — names which are real, not virtual.

Prime Minister of France Édouard Philippe

The new $100 million Sir John Monash Centre … a marvel of high-tech with video screens that cover entire walls… Here, visitors gain an immersive experience of the war though extraordinary visual displays and the words of soldiers beamed direct to mobile phones via an app. It is an experience unlike any other ‘museum’.

Tony Wright, The Age Newspaper Sat July 21, 2018.

This memorial museum is incredible. The innovative use of technology to facilitate an utterly immersive experience sets the centre apart from others of its kind.

Visitor review, Facebook

A visit to the SJMC has enhanced my Western Front experience.

Visitor review, Facebook
The Sir John Monash Centre presents history in a new and exciting way, offering an immersive experience that’s based on multimedia. With 440 screens projecting archival footage and historical recreations—one gallery alone has 186 screens—visitors are guided through the Centre by the Sir John Monash Centre app. The app is a virtual tour guide that allows visitors to experience the site at their own pace and in their choice of English, French or German. The story of Australians on the Western Front is told by soldiers through their personal experiences.