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The Drill Hall was built in 1940 to train soldiers for the Second World War. The 3rd Battalion, Werriwa Regiment was based in this building in 1941-2. In 1984 the interior was superbly remodelled to create an art gallery which is considered one of the most beautiful of its kind. In 2004 a Heritage order was placed on the building.

Charlie Sheard, installation view 2016. Photo by Rob Little.

Sidney Nolan, Riverbend, 1964-65, oil on composition board, nine panels, 153 x 122 cm each. ANU Art Collection. Photo: Ben Wrigley.

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While the National Gallery of Australia waited for the completion of its building, temporary exhibitions of the national collection were held here. In 1992 the Australian National University took over the Drill Hall Gallery as a showcase for its own art collection and as a venue for temporary exhibitions. There are 4 discrete exhibition spaces.

The Gallery is a venue of choice for many of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, curators and collectors. We have developed a proud tradition of impeccably presented landmark exhibitions accompanied by scholarly publications. Sidney Nolan’s 9-panel panorama, Riverbend (recently nominated among the ten must-see art treasures of Canberra) is on permanent display in the Riverbend Room.

The Drill Hall Gallery provides the Canberra community and ANU with a selective program of high quality exhibitions of Australian and international art. The Gallery supports the arts in the Canberra region by presenting exhibitions developed in conjunction with the University’s wide-ranging academic interests and/or to coincide with major conferences and public events. National and international exhibitions – and works from the University’s own extensive collection – are features of the Gallery’s program.

You can support the Drill Hall Gallery by contributing to the Friends of the Drill Hall Gallery Endowment or The ANU Visual Arts Endowment.

The ANU School of Art & Design Gallery also presents an annual exhibition program, which critically frames Australian visual art practice, presents graduate and post-graduate work and reflects the international profile of the ANU School of Art & Design.

Drill Hall Gallery Staff

  • DirectorTerence Maloon
  • Curator, ExhibitionsTony Oates
  • Curator, CollectionsOscar Capezio
  • Communications & Outreach CoordinatorAnne-Marie Jean
  • Memberships and Weekend CoordinatorLucija Chetcuti
  • Communications and Graphic Design OfficerJoanne Leong
  • Assistant Curator, CollectionsBen Shingles

Drill Hall Gallery, 1951. Image from National Archives of Australia.

After World War I there was a series of reorganisations which saw the emergence of the regional militia including the Werriwa Regiment, numbered the 3rd Battalion, recruited from the Canberra region and southern New South Wales.

Frank Hinder (1906–1992) Drill Hall Civic 1942 watercolour. Collection: Australian National University.

The Battalion was based in this building in 1940 and 1941 and was called up for full-time duty in October 1941. On 18 May 1942 the battalion left Australia for Papua. By 5 September 1942 it was on the Kokoda Track. The Battalion fought for 100 days across the Owen Stanley Ranges to Gona. The Battalion made a significant contribution to the defense of Australia. It fought throughout the whole campaign without relief, the only battalion to do so. The casualties suffered in that campaign were so great that the 3rd Battalion (the Werriwa Regiment AMF) was absorbed into the 2/3rd Battalion AIF.

The Battalion was re-raised in Canberra in 1948 as a Citizens Military Forces battalion and in 1960 became C Company of the Pentropic Battalion which covered the whole of New South Wales. In 1965 it reverted to the 3rd Battalion of the Royal New South Wales Regiment. Queens and Regimental Colours were presented in September 1966. During this period the Battalion was headquartered in this Drill Hall.

The Drill Hall was handed over to the Australian National University on 9 July 1969. For a number of years a cabinet at the Drill Hall Gallery contained memorabilia from the Kokoda Campaign. The artefacts are now in ANU archives. The Drill Hall Gallery has housed several plaques, photographs and a badge commemorating the 3rd Battalion’s 1942 militia service on the Kokoda Trail, Papua New Guinea.

(Left to right) Veteri Frondescit Honore, 3, 3rd Battalion Werriwa Regt. Presented by Major J.F. Bishop, The Royal New South Wales Regiment. Commemorative shield, Veteri Frondescit Honore, 3, 3rd Battalion Werriwa Regt. Kokoda Trail 1942, Port Moresby 1942. Presented by Major J.F. Bishop, RFD, ED. The Australian National University commemorates the 3rd Battalion (the Werriwa Regiment) as the first occupants of the Drill Hall. Regimental Plaque, 3rd Battalion. Royal N.S.W. Regiment, 3, Veteri Frondescit Honore. Presented by Captain Bede Tongs MM, President, 3rd Infantry Battalion AMF Association.

Untitled, inscribed on reverse side: 3rd Militia Battalion Officers in camp, probably just pre-war Sydney. Presented by C. Kennedy.

Frank Hinder (1906–1992) Drill Hall Civic 1942 watercolour. Collection: Australian National University.

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The Drill Hall Gallery, with its dynamic gallery program and wonderful acoustics is a popular venue for musical and other social events. Events are generally held outside the galleries regular opening hours and capacity is variable in relation to the exhibition on show at the time of the event.

Please contact us directly for details on capacity, cost and availability.

Charlie Sheard, installation view 2016. Photo by Rob Little.

Volunteers are an important part of the Drill Hall community, contributing to distinct projects and providing valuable assistance to enable the Drill Hall Gallery to function to its full potential.

The contribution of volunteers can improve the delivery of resources to both the ANU community and the visiting public to the Drill Hall Gallery. The Gallery in turn provides volunteers the opportunity to learn new skills and observe aspects of a professional gallery environment. We welcome enquires about volunteering, including from students of the ANU.

Enquire Now

Proposals for exhibitions are invited from professional curators and artists. Proposals must be consistent with the Gallery’s tradition of presenting landmark exhibitions that contribute to a culture of engagement.

Proposals should be addressed to the Director and include: a clear and concise written description of the exhibition project, its concept and rationale; biographical details of the contributing artist and curators; visual support material; a budget outlining funding arrangements for the exhibition including the catalogue, transport and framing of works; and the preferred timing of the proposed exhibition.

Contact us for more information

The Drill Hall Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, the traditional custodians of the Canberra region, and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and Country.

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