Review underway for Southland Museum

Toni Biddle and Tim Walker in front of the Southland Museum and Art Gallery which closed early April.

The Southland Museum and Art Gallery is undergoing a wide-ranging review as part of the decision on its future direction.

Tim Walker, a strategic planner who was instrumental in the development of Wellington's Te Papa Tongarewa museum, will lead the review of Invercargill's recently closed museum. 

He said the museum had been stuck in a holding pattern for 10 years now, and he was looking forward to working on a way to allow it to move forward. 

Mr Walker said the most important aspect of the job was figuring out what they were trying to achieve and understanding what Southlanders wanted. He also wanted to see the museum become a place where people went voluntarily, rather than just a wet weather option for the kids.

"We want to make it a place where kids and families are saying 'can we go to the museum?'."

The museum was closed to the public on Thursday, April 12 for safety reasons based on seismic assessments. 

The review, supported by the Southland Regional Heritage Committee (SRHC), will consider development and storage options, as well as relevant local, regional or national information, including where the museum fits into regional planning around heritage and arts. Governance options, staffing and operations models will also be considered.

Mr Walker said specific community consultation would be also part of the process.

"The closure does provide an opportunity to stand back, think, and test a few options of how best to ensure Invercargill and Southland have a 21st Century museum they can be proud of for decades to come."

Museum board chairwoman Toni Biddle said they were excited to have Mr Walker on board.

The wealth of his knowledge and experience would be an absolute asset to the board, Miss Biddle said.

"He works from the ground up, he works with the community, puts people at the forefront and then comes up with a concept. We believe that's what the community deserve when talking about a new museum."

"We're working towards a redevelopment in the next five years which seems like a long time but it's actually not... it's so exciting."


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