In 1936 the Ypres city authorities donated two monumental but seriously damaged heraldic lions to Australia. The statues were created in 1822 and originally adorned the grand staircase of the Cloth Hall. In 1862 they were moved to guard the passage in the ramparts, known as the Menin Gate.
The fully restored statues have been given a place of honour in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, guarding the entrance to the Commemorative Courtyard leading to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. To mark the centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres, the lions are being temporarily returned to their former home city.
On this occasion the In Flanders Fields Museum is devoting a themed exhibition accompanied by documentary materials to the Menin Gate Lions and their history, as well as Ypres' particular relevance for Australia's commemoration culture.