After the First World War, a small bureau of the Australian War Graves Commission was set up in Villers-Bretonneux. This once thriving town had been left in ruins and to rebuild it the Australians and French helped one another in an international show of solidarity that was primarily demonstrated by the reconstruction of the school. From that moment onwards, a firm and lasting friendship was established between the people of VB and the people of Australia.
Newly renovated museum
Entirely renovated in 2016 and located on the first floor of Victoria School, the museum is themed not only on the story of an international friendship that developed through war and hardship, but also on remembrance and hope for the future. A large part of its collection was acquired through donations made to the Franco-Australian Association. The museum layout enables visitors to fully comprehend how this friendship between the two countries was formed through four themes: a Place of Memory and Commemoration, Memories of War, a National Memory and Town Memories. Soldiers’ personal effects (uniforms, letters and photographs) and moving accounts themed on Franco-Australian friendship are used to illustrate these topics. Mid-way through the museum, a glass-roofed, chapel-like area enables visitors to see and contemplate the message of thanks displayed in the schoolyard reading “Do not forget Australia”.
The Victoria Hall is on the ground floor. It is a magnificent assembly hall with wooden panelling displaying carvings of Australian wildlife and a permanent exhibition of photographs of the State of Victoria. The carvings are the work of the Australian artist John Grant and his students at the Dayleford Technical College.
Do not forget Australia
In the schoolyard, a large sign reads “Do Not Forget Australia” and an Australian fresco was created by the staff and children of the school and inaugurated on Anzac Day 2009. Due to the strong bond of friendship between the Australian population and the inhabitants of Villers-Bretonneux, this message expresses the need to remember. The French translation: “N’oublions jamais l’Australie” can be found in each of the classrooms.
- Every day from April to October from 9.30am to 5.30pm
- Every day from November to March 9:30am to 4:30pm
- Last entry 30 minutes before closing
- Open on public holidays (except 25/12 & 01/01)
- Ticket prices : Adults €6 / children (11 - 18 years old) €3 / free for under 11s
- 9, rue Victoria 80800 Villers-Bretonneux
- Tel +33 (0) 3 22 96 80 79
Longitude 2.516374 | Latitude 49.8662