Museum redevelopment proposal

A two-phase redevelopment of the Southland Museum and Art Gallery over twelve years, between 2017 and 2029, is being proposed by the museum’s Trust Board and management.

The plans also include providing a new home and exhibition space for the Anderson Park Art Gallery art collection, following discussions between the Museum Trust Board and the Trustees of Anderson Park Art Gallery.

Click the image for a larger version
Click the image for a larger version

The Southland Museum and Art Gallery is owned by a Trust Board and the facility is managed, under management contract, by the Invercargill City Council. The Council does not own the museum building or its collections.

The Southland Museum and Art Gallery Chairman, Darren Ludlow, said that it was 25 years since the pyramid was built around the original brick museum building. While the pyramid was iconic, it was no longer large enough to house or display the museum’s collections, valued at $10 million. The pyramid also needed earthquake strengthening and replacement of roofing which is a fire risk.

The layout of the pyramid meant that the ground floor foyer area was cluttered and the building simply wasn’t big enough to house all of the services required. These include: tourism facilities, a cafe, an education centre, exhibition and storage space for the museum’s artefacts, Anderson Park Art Gallery art collection, Community Access art gallery, touring exhibition gallery, a home for the tuatara programme and possibly a kakapo facility.

Click the image for a larger version
Click the image for a larger version

The concept included a kakapo facility, but that would depend on whether the Invercargill City Council decided to approve and fund the project, Mr Ludlow said. It had been included in concept drawings to show the public how it might fit into the wider museum redevelopment.

Mr Ludlow said the Trust Board and management believed that the best solution was one that spread the cost of redevelopment over two phases to make it as affordable as possible; and that kept the facility continuously open, rather than shutting down for several years while the work took place.

Phase One – $20 million

Phase one involves construction of a new building on half of the now disused tennis court area to the west of the pyramid. This building would house:

  • A foyer with a cafe (ground floor)
  • The community access art gallery (ground floor)
  • Another gallery for the Southland Today Exhibition (ground floor)
  • Storage (first floor – short term)
  • Touring exhibition space (first floor -long term)
  • Proposed Anderson Park Art Gallery (second floor)
  • AV theatre (third floor)
  • School classroom (third floor)
  • Meeting room (third floor)
  • Observatory (third floor)

In the short term the Museum’s $10 million collection would be moved into the new building for storage, so the pyramid could be refurbished.

Phase Two – $23 million

Refurbishment of the pyramid, including: earthquake strengthening to 100% of the new building standard, new roofing, enlargement of storage space and two redeveloped exhibition areas. On completion the pyramid would house:

  • The Story of Southland Exhibition
  • The Roaring Forties Exhibition
  • The Museum’s Collection
  • Staff work space, research area etc.


Capital Funding
To fund the capital works of the museum redevelopment, the SMAG Trust Board and management will be applying for grants to central government and community funders. This means Invercargill ratepayers could fund $4 million out of the $20 million required for Phase One and $3 million of the $23 million for Phase Two.

Operational Funding
Additional operational funding of about $600,000 a year will also be required to fund the staff to provide services inside and outside the museum. This may be funded from an increase in the region-wide Southland Heritage Committee Rate, or an Invercargill City Council targeted rate, or a combination of the two.

Depending on the combination chosen, for a household in Invercargill, the increase could be between $15 and $28 a year. Any proposed increases to the Southland Regional Heritage Committee Rate, or ICC targeted rate would be consulted on via the three councils’ (Southland District Council, Gore District Council and Invercargill City Council) annual plans.

Mr Ludlow said that museum management would be working between now and December to publicise the concept and confirm grant funding for the project.

NOTE: A video clip explaining the proposed redevelopment of the Southland Museum and Art Gallery is available: visit and click on the ICC TV tile on the homepage.