INVERCARGILL City Council’s (ICC) decision to support the strengthening and refurbishment of the Southland Museum & Art Gallery (SMAG) is “a great step for Southland-kind”, a board member says.
However, council confirmed the community might have to wait until 2025 to actually step into its pyramid building.
SMAG board member and Friends of the Museum chairwoman Chris Henderson described it as a “step in the right direction”.
Last week, councillors agreed to seek community support for strengthening and refurbishing the museum on its present site, at an estimated cost of $52.2 million, as part of ICC’s long-term consultation.
The building was closed to the public in April 2018 because of earthquake safety concerns, leaving its future uncertain.
On Monday it was confirmed councillors had considered five options, ranging from a refurbishment to bring it to 34% of the national building standard (NBS) to the construction of a completely new building at a cost of $85.5 million.
Councillors decided the best option would be to strengthen the building to a 67% NBS level.
The refurbishment would include replacing the heating and air conditioning system, a new exhibition fit-out, and a full interior refurbishment and would take about 37 months to complete from the adoption of ICC’s long-term plan.
Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt acknowledged the community’s strong desire to see the pyramid and museum reopened.
“By choosing the option that we have, it will be affordable for the council.
“Rather than having more delays, we will be able to start work next year, should the community support our proposed option.”
Infrastructural services committee chairman Ian Pottinger said the report was an in-depth look at all the options for the future of the museum.
“Councillors felt strongly the bare minimum wasn’t truly an option. It wouldn’t be fair to our community as it would not future-proof the building or honour the collection within.
ICC infrastructure group manager Erin Moogan said a timeframe and designs would only be defined next year, following consultation with the community and did not believe it would be opened before 2025.
ICC leisure and recreation group manager Steve Gibling rejected the possibility of a staged opening as “there were no separable portions” for the project.
All details in relation to design and the future of the tuatarium would also be defined after the community had its say, he said.
A sum of $4.5 million was allocated for storage of the collection. The option of leasing some of the artefacts to other regional museums would be explored.