The Australian War Memorial has launched Art of nation: Australia’s official art and photography of the First World War, a digital interpretation of the earliest plans for the Memorial. Australian official war historian and Memorial founder Charles Bean sketched the design for this building in 1919 as he returned home to Australia following the First World War.

During the war, artists and photographers were deployed to the front to witness and record the war first hand. Bean’s imagined building contains separate galleries housing the official war art and photography collections. The large paintings are exhibited in a dedicated art gallery for the first time. The photography gallery displays a recreation of the first major exhibition of Australian official war photography in London in May 1918.

The paintings and photographs link to more information and maps that trace the journeys of the artists and photographers. Photographs and sketches have been pinned to maps, allowing visitors to explore where Australians served and, by using Google Street View, what these places look like today. Animations attached to photographer Frank Hurley’s composite images reveal how these works were created, while a “magic lantern” slide projection features the early colour photography process used to record the war.