The statue of Minerva which has stood in front of the Southland Museum and Art Gallery for more than 70 years is to get a makeover.
The statue is made of cast iron and exposure to weather means it is in need of repairs and conservation treatment. It has been in front of the Museum since 1942 after being moved there from the Athenaeum, where it had stood since 1876.
The statue will be moved in the coming weeks and stored so that it can be inspected by a metal conservator. It is not yet known how much it will cost to restore Minerva but it is expected the work will be carried out in two to four years.
Also, it has yet to be decided whether the statue will return to standing outside, where it will continue to be exposed to the weather, or if it it might be housed inside a redeveloped museum at a later date.
The statue’s place at the south side of the museum will be used for installation of site huts while the museum is closed.
Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom and strategic war (equivalent to the Greek goddess Athena). The statue is “symbolic of the patronage of learning and wisdom, and the fine arts, which are the chief characteristics of advanced civilisations”.
Minerva is owned by the Invercargill City Council. It was placed in the care of Southland Museum and Art Gallery staff in 1940 following its removal from the Athenaeum / Public Library and placement in front of the Museum.