The Soldiers Memorial Institute (SMI) building on Pall Mall, Bendigo, has recently undergone a major revitalisation in consultation with Heritage Victoria. The military museum reopened on 16 November 2018 with permanent displays focused on central Victorian’s experience in war and peacekeeping. A new wing built to passive house principals provides an exhibition space to museum environmental standards and hosts an annual program of temporary exhibitions.
Permanent displays Central Victoria Remembers the First and Second World Wars present research undertaken by staff and volunteers on central Victorian military history through murals, text panels, static image material, mannequins in uniforms and installations. Showcases throughout the exhibitions highlight parts of the collection and assist with the rotation of displays.
The origins of the SMI building extends back to before the end of the Great War. The Memorial was opened by the then Governor, the Earl of Stradbroke on Tuesday 15 November 1921. The Bendigo RSL Sub Branch was granted tenancy from that day on. It was a fitting memorial to the thousands of Bendigo boys who enlisted and to those who made the supreme sacrifice. The massive brass Honour Rolls on the front of the memorial were unveiled by the Federal President of Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League of Australia, Captain Gilbert Dyett (Later to become Sir Gilbert) on Sunday 25 April 1926.
The military museum’s collection is comprised of the Bendigo District RSL Sub Branch collection and the Passchendaele Barracks Trust collection. Cataloguing and research are undertaken by a group of dedicated volunteers. Hosting volunteers’ welcome visitors to explore the displays from pre-Boer War to Afghanistan including Army, Navy, Air Force, POW's and Women's Services. The material is extensive from medals, uniforms, firearms, swords and bayonets, to trench art, personnel items, diaries, letters and post cards.
A number of Honour Rolls from local schools and churches that have ceased existence are on permanent display. A major part of the collection revolves around Bendigo's own 38th Battalion AIF which was raised in 1916 for service overseas. Their Battle Honours are a significant part of the permanent display. The Regimental Colours of the 38ths predecessor, the 67th Battalion are also on display. A major boost to the 38th collection was the collection of photographs taken by Jack and Bert Grinton which was to become known around Australia through the touring exhibition A Camera on the Somme. The Grinton family effects from the war are also part of the display.
We also have a large library and volumes of research records. Information is available on researching service records, medals, entitlements and related issues. There are some 80 plus folders containing copies of diaries, photos, letters, post cards and records for visitors to browse.
The Building and Museum collection are a lasting tribute to the men and women of Australia who served their country.
Entrance to the museum including temporary exhibitions; Adults: $9, Service/Life Member: $7 with members card, Current ADF Member: $7 with identification, Affiliate/Social Member:$8 with members card, Child Aged 12-17:$5, Child Under 12: FREE, Concession/Seniors/Pension:$7 (with concession card), Family Pass: $25 ( 2 adults and 2 children)
Please make an appointment for group bookings with tour.
Open 7 days a week 10am to 4pm. Closed some public holidays. Please contact to confirm.