Shrine of Remembrance / Botanic Gardens

With our days living in Melbourne winding down, I’m starting to visit those things that I haven’t made the time for up to now. I love the botanic gardens and have visited a few times, but I’ve never stopped in at the Shrine of Remembrance. The structure and surrounding landscaping are immaculate, and the darkened and monumental interior shrine provides a quiet atmosphere. I found it interesting that the monument acts as a solemn memorial to fallen soldiers, while at the same time maintains a strong relationship with the modern city around it (to the extent that it’s a popular tourist photo stop). The upper balcony is an outpost with views straight through the heart of the city. Despite any personal misgivings about war/conflict, I think the space shows some respectful appreciation for the loss of individuals and connects that feeling of loss to the prosperous and peaceful city surrounding the building. To my mind, the space doesn’t necessarily glorify fallen heroes so much as it reminds us that as a society we must always aim for and maintain peace. The grandeur of the classical design, however, doesn’t sit particularly well with me, seeming a bit like a show of might or (particularly colonial) wealth. I hesitate to criticize though, because I know the monument does act as a meaningful and healing space for veterans, their descendants, and the general public. In any case, it was an interesting place to visit that has me thinking more about the complicated role of monuments as both deeply personal/emotional spaces and complex symbols of broader societal values. We’re starting to feel some signs of spring in the city, and I’ve included some images of things that are blooming at the gardens.

Related:
Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance (Wikipedia)
Monuments and Collective Memory (Medium)
Secular Chapels (The Book of Life)

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Too hot for cameras in the glasshouse.
Too hot for cameras in the glasshouse.