Call to make new museum a drawcard


AN Invercargill city councillor is frustrated by the options for the redevelopment of the Southland Museum & Art Gallery, saying all lack the “wow factor”.

Cr Marcus Lush made the comments during an extraordinary meeting of the infrastructural services committee last week where a report presenting options for reinstating the facilities was received and would now go for consultation.

It presented three options – the council’s favoured option to demolish the pyramid and build a 4150 sq m building within the same footprint; earthquake-strengthen the museum building to 67% of the national building standard; or build a smaller museum.

Cr Lush did not agree with any of the options as none fulfilled the brief of being something unique and compelling in the city.

When the council set up a group to consider the facility, he expected them to come back with something innovative which would attract people to Invercargill.

“I think through council we’ve missed the boat and we’ve come with things that are OK for now.

“It is great, it is exciting but… it has been 50 years since we had a new museum and for me, when we sent this to the group to come away with something unique and compelling, I thought we were going to come up with a museum that would attract people in New Zealand to come here to see it.”

He wanted residents to be mindful of this in the consultation process as he believed the council was spending a lot of money, and coming up with something that was not unique.

“What I’ve seen is a proposal that pretty much does and fulfills the same brief as the pyramid… But to me this has not got the wow factor and I think what Invercargill desperately needs now is the wow factor to bring people to Invercargill, and to keep them here.”

With the exception of Splash Palace and ILT Stadium Southland, he believed the council had a history of executing and building things that were “underwhelming”.

Councillors unanimously supported the option to build a bigger museum.

Cr Darren Ludlow said the community needed something to be proud of and if they did not agree, they would say that during the consultation.

“People are not happy with the amount of time that they are doing without the service of the facility. I want to give them something that is really going to deliver for them. It is a win-win.”

Consultation starts this week and the council is expected to make a final decision about the matter in June.