Open the Museum!

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WATCH: Outcry from locals as Invercargill’s Southland Museum closed due to earthquake concerns, CLICK BELOW




Our ‘open the museum’ team are sharing stand 15a at the Southland Home Show at Stadium Southland.


Please call in for a chat any time from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday 24 & 25 June 2018.


We have a new petition and we are keen hear your ideas. We will share our ideas on the next steps to get the Museum opened.

Here is our petition.

You are welcome to print this format and gather signatures and send them to or post to 120 Leet Street, Invercargill 9810.

Please click the below button to download the word document. 

23 June 2016

Summary of the reasons for the closure of the Southland Museum and ideas to open the Museum.


In 2004 the Southland Museum and Art Gallery (SMAG) Trust Board signed a contract with the Invercargill City Council (ICC) to manage the Southland Museum.  On 9 April 2018 Clare Hadley, who had been chief executive for three weeks, asked the ICC to endorse her proposal to withdraw the 41 staff, from the Museum building. The City Council agreed, and the SMAG Trust Board decided to close the Museum three days later.


Mrs Hadley claimed the decision was necessary due to the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requiring her to provide a safe workspace. A 2013 Report by Opus engineers stated the original 1940 two storey block; the 1960 addition and the 1988 pyramid addition were all less than 34% of NBS (New Building Standard) and consequently could be classified as earthquake-prone.


After a walk-through of the building in March 2018, heritage engineer Win Clark provided a three-page review of the Opus Report considering The Seismic Assessment of Existing Buildings Guidelines July 2017 and wrote “It is confirmed that the Southland Museum and Art Gallery Building is probably ‘earthquake-prone’. I trust the review and the conclusions outlined above assists you and the Trust Board to move forward with your planning to upgrade the Southland Museum and Art Gallery Building.”


In her 9 April report Mrs Hadley stated, “The recommended decisions would be easily reversable should different information come to pass.” New information has been presented but the decision has not yet been reversed.  On average more than 19,000 people per month were visiting the Museum, to socialise and to be enlightened by the staff, the exhibits and events.  


A few of our leaders closed the Museum because they are afraid.  

These leaders and the other elected or appointed representatives, who did not ask the questions, or ask for current reports from knowledgeable people, have created havoc in the community and in the lives of the staff they made redundant.  


Experienced building professionals, Dunedin structural engineer Lou Robinson, and Invercargill quantity surveyor Lindsay Buckingham and architect Bob Simpson all believe the museum should be open, as the risks are modest and the laws and regulations, do not require it to be closed.


These three building professionals ask the SMAG Trust Board:

  1. To decide to do some upgrading work on the building. Then, based on Mrs Hadley’s Report the building could be opened immediately.

  2. To get the ground conditions tested as recommended in the 2013 Opus Report. In April 2018 two ground tests were completed on the site and they confirmed the local knowledge that the site conditions are better than the assumptions made in the Opus Report. If the site is proved to be better, the %NBS is increased by 30%.   

  3. To upgrade the building to 67%NBS in within the 12.5 or 25 years allowed by the Building Act.

  4. To look closely at the occupancy class. The building professionals believe Opus have chosen the incorrect category. If this was changed the NBS% would be improved by 30%.

  5. To note Worksafe May 2018 policy under the heading ‘Dealing with earthquake-related health and safety risks,’ “if you are a business who owns or occupies an earthquake-prone building and you are meeting the earthquake performance requirements of the Building Act 2004, we are not going to enforce to a higher standard under HSWA.


The Museum building was built in stages to the earthquake codes of the day. It is of modest size and has no parapets or parts which can fall off during an earthquake.  It is not a significant risk. The cultural and social activities linked with this building are important for our community and our visitors.

We think this building is a much greater risk in the event

of an earthquake than the Museum building.