At 6.00 p.m. on Sunday 2 August 2018, Sir Peter Jackson’s The Great War Exhibition, including the massive Chunuk Bair diorama that I was so involved with back in 2015, closed its doors for the last time.
The Great War Exhibition was designed as a temporary exhibition, to be kept open for the duration of the First World War centenary, and to close some time after the November 11th Armistice Day ceremony in 2018.
Featured in the exhibition was a huge diorama of the battle that took place at Chunuk Bair on the Gallipoli peninsula in 2015. Around 140 wargamers from all over New Zealand worked in a team effort to paint the 5,000 specially made 54mm Perry Miniatures figures.
You can read all about this complex project in this downloadable Wargames Illustrated article.
Fellow wargamer, and one of the project heads for the exhibition, Rhys Jones, attended the formal closing ceremony, where he spoke to the invited guests about the creation of the exhibition, including the diorama.
“The good news is that there is plenty of interest in parts of the exhibition, including the diorama, being moved to another location,” Rhys told me. “We remain positive that the diorama will again be on display in the near future.”
Above: Rhys Jones, Sir Peter Jackson, and Alan and Michael Perry survey just a few of the thousands of 54mm figures painted by an army of volunteer wargamers during construction of the diorama in 2015.
The Great War Exhibition has been a real success, being the second-highest rated attraction in Wellington on TripAdvisor, after Te Papa. “We had also been offered to be put in Lonely Planet,” said Rhys, “but had to turn that down as we were closing.”
Rhys was pleased that the exhibition had been such an impressive tribute to the soldiers of The Great War, and the Chunuk Bair diorama was a key part of that success.
“A (semi) final thank you to everyone who contributed to the creation of the diorama – be it painting and/or constructing the terrain. What an amazing effort to do all that in less than three months!”