Te Unua Museum of Southland Museum Director appointed

Invercargill’s museum redevelopment has been given another major boost, with the appointment of its director made official.

Invercargill City Council Chief Executive Michael Day said he was pleased to announce that Eloise Wallace has been appointed to the position of Museum Director for the city’s new cultural facility, Te Unua Museum of Southland.

“Eloise comes to us with a varied and impressive background in the museum and heritage sector, both here in New Zealand and overseas, and an abundance of skills that will ensure our vision to create an industry-leading museum is achieved,” he said.

Te Unua Museum of Southland is part of Council’s Project 1225, which will see the creation of three key cultural facilities in Invercargill. The project also includes the construction of a new specialist tuatara enclosure at the animal reserve within the award-winning Queens Park, and a museum collection storage facility at Tisbury.

“Eloise has an exceptional reputation within the museum sector and we are delighted to welcome her on board,” Day said.

Wallace said Project 1225 marked an exciting time of renewal and reinvention in Invercargill.

“Following this project from afar, I was really drawn to the aspirational community vision for what a museum could and should be in Southland,” she said.

“Having spent most of my career working in regional New Zealand, and knowing the innovation, creativity, and ‘can-do’ attitude that comes with living and working in the regions, I wasn’t surprised that Southlanders had a big, bold vision for their new museum. I’m looking forward to bringing my experience and skills to this challenge, but more importantly becoming part of the community, and working together to create a new facility that celebrates and shares the stories of Southland – past, present, and future – in a unique and inspiring way.

“The opportunity to develop a new museum doesn’t come along every day, so it’s a real privilege to be part of the team taking on the challenge of creating an innovative, world-class museum experience in Invercargill – for the people of Southland, and for visitors from all over the world,” Wallace said.

Wallace was born in Auckland, and grew up in Tauwhare, in rural Waikato. She has worked in the museum and heritage sector for more than two decades – both throughout New Zealand, and at the renowned Imperial War Museum London.

For more than eight years, she has been Director of Tairāwhiti Museum & Art Gallery, in Gisborne. She has also served as Co-Chair of Museums Aotearoa, New Zealand’s independent national body for museums and galleries, since 2021, and also serves as a trustee of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in Christchurch.

An award-winning history curator, Wallace has also been Deputy Chair of Heritage Tairāwhiti, an organisation that supports the protection and recognition of historic places, and their stories, within the Tairāwhiti district and has been extensively involved within other organisations across the arts, heritage, culture, tourism, and education sectors in both Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay.

“My family and I are really looking forward to making the move from out east to down south, becoming part of the community, and exploring all Southland has to offer,” Wallace said.

Wallace would officially take up the position early in the new year, but hoped to visit Invercargill and connect with the wider team prior to Christmas.

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