An innovative, cultural space showcasing Southland heritage and art is on track to open in September, Southland Museum and Art Gallery (SMAG) Chair Toni Biddle says.
SMAG is collaborating with the Invercargill Public Art Gallery (IPAG) to develop a shared exhibition space in the building on the corner of Kelvin and Don Sts, previously home to the ANZ Bank.
Biddle said a lot of behind-the-scenes work was being done by the SMAG and IPAG teams to develop amazing experiences for the people of Southland.
“We are making excellent progress. It is incredible to witness what collaboration, determination and hard work can achieve. We have exceptional people in our community who all want the best for our city.”
Building and fit-out work was likely to be completed in August, with a spring opening date in mind. A name for the CBD space was still being worked on, she said.
The SMAG board was focused on the protection, cataloguing and preparation for moving the collection to a new location, the redevelopment of the museum and art gallery, and the collaboration with IPAG, Biddle said.
IPAG Chair Lynley Irvine said the collaborative approach was new and exciting in the arts and heritage sector, and a place to build from going forward.
“The representative project group is dedicated to using community funds wisely and for the best benefit to our community. The creative synergy in the curatorial team is obvious,” she said.
Co-managers Sarah Brown (IPAG) and David Luoni (SMAG) said they were inspired by the exhibition concepts the joint curatorial team were developing.
The space was being designed so stories could be told in bold, new ways, as a proving ground for what people might like to see in the redeveloped SMAG and proposed ACI, Luoni said.
A prominent Te ao Māori focus, reimagined tellings of some of Southland’s famous and infamous stories, and an immersive Southland landscape experience were planned to feature. Exhibitions would rotate every four to six months and would often be thematic in nature.
“Our goal is to keep the content dynamic and rotating, rather than a permanent fixed display”, Luoni said.
Brown said she was delighted with the creativity within the joint team and how seamlessly the two organisations were working together.
“Our strength as curators is that we are tailoring content specifically for and of Southland, which will also hit the tourist market.”
Aspects of the exhibitions had been influenced by public input into the SMAG redevelopment consultation in 2018, along with feedback from the ‘Art in the Heart’ consultation process, which informed plans for the proposed ACI.
SMAG and IPAG are also each planning to digitally display 50 significant objects which will be added to the Museums of Southland website, which showcases Southland’s regional museum collections: https://ehive.com/communities/1145/museums-of-southland
“The Museums of Southland project is helping us to bring the region’s rich stories together in one place, online,” Luoni said.
Biddle said the SMAG board will receive the final SMAG redevelopment report from strategic consultant Tim Walker in early May.
The SMAG board would then be able to initiate the next steps in the process, including publicising the options and considering a recommendation to its funding stakeholders, she said.
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