IT is time – again – to talk about the Southland Museum & Art Gallery.
Last year, the Invercargill City Council (ICC) committed, in its Long Term Plan 2021-2031, to invest $39.4 million to redevelop the region’s museum and art gallery and agreed to review whether a new building would better meet the region’s needs.
An independent governance group set up to “reimagine” the museum and art gallery has produced a report presenting three options for reinstating the facilities, which was presented to elected members earlier this week.
While the matter would still be consulted with the community, both parties agreed the best outcome would be to demolish the traditional pyramid and build a new 4150 sq m building within the same footprint.
The unusual pyramid-shaped building has been the entrance to the Southland Museum & Art Gallery at the edge of Queens Park since the 1990s.
It was closed in 2018 because it is earthquake prone.
Speaking to councillors, ICC leisure and recreation group manager Steve Gibling said the new facility was about connecting people.
“It is not just about displaying artefacts in the traditional sense of an old museum. This is about connecting people, to ensure it is inclusive and appeals to all ages, cultures and demographics.”
The option also suggested a new permanent stand-alone storage facility should also be constructed. The total project would cost $75.6 million.
Other options include earthquake-strengthening the museum building to standard, fully refurbishing the pyramid building, and demolishing the pyramid and building a smaller museum with a storage facility.
The costs of those options ranged from $57.1 million to $65.2 million.
It also recommended the museum’s tuatara get a new, separate enclosure in Queens Park.
Mr Gibling said in the report the option of the smaller building provided the best overall outcome for the project, when balancing the “vision and critical success factors”, the community experience, and the risks and financial costs.
He noted a decision to demolish the pyramid could spark a lot of feedback, but they could not support the option to keep it because there were limited opportunities to shape the facility.
“So we are unlikely to provide a more engaging and connecting customer experience.”
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.”
Detailed information would be made public soon and feedback sought during public consultation from March 24.
Council expected to make a final decision about the matter in June.