A Lorry by any other Name

Creator: Laura Kennedy and Alison Wain

Date: 2010

Abstract: The Australian War Memorial’s design concept for the upgrade of its Second World War galleries included the display of the Chevrolet 3-ton lorry in its collection. This lorry was needed to represent a campaign in North Africa,but it had served in Australia, so it retained its original jungle green finish, not the sand colour used in North Africa.Preparation of the vehicle for the new display would require the removal of major components, the application of a protective barrier layer, overpainting in the North African sand colour, and the fabrication of new fittings.Senior management were approached to consider placing the lorry on display in its original finish, accompanied by an explanatory text panel; but this suggestion was rejected and a directive was given to overpaint.

The limited timeframe, and lack of evidence that the barrier layer would be both effective and reversible, were points of concern. Then staff found an unprovenanced type example lorry for sale on EBay that suited the story and also presented an opportunity to avoid treatment options that were constrained by the ethics that apply to collection material. Management supported the purchase. The vehicle was not given National Collection status, but acquired as a “spare” to be disassembled and used for parts after the exhibition closed. This process invites a range of questions: How to present a convincing case for change where there is a need to protect the integrity of a relic while meeting display requirements?; Is the institution compromising the integrity of a display when the object is categorised as a spare?; What do the general public want, what do stakeholders expect, and how do those considerations currently factor into the decision-making process?

Reference: Laura Kennedy and Alison Wain 2010, ‘A Lorry by any other Name’, Big Stuff 2010

DOI Link:

Kennedy, Laura, & Wain, Alison. (2010). A Lorry by any other Name. Zenodo. http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4086627
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