Southland Museum and Art Gallery

Southland Museum and Art Gallery

The Southland Museum and Art Gallery is located in Gala Street, Invercargill, New Zealand. It is Southland's largest cultural and heritage institution, and contains a wide variety of the region's art, history and natural history collections.

What to see


From April to August, the museum observatory operates every Wednesday night, when Daylight Saving Time is not in effect, operated by members of the Southland Astronomical Society,[1] with school groups often visiting. This is the only public observatory in Southland.


Tuatara enclosure

The tuatarium is a popular destination for both tourists and locals. The facility houses over 50 live, individual tuatara ranging from new babies to the famous Henry,[2] who is thought to be over 110 years old. Henry and his girlfriend Mildred produced 11 eggs in the 2009 season. All hatched. Tuatara Curator Lindsay Hazley suggested [3] that the new acrylic roof that allowed ultra violet light through to the tuatara has contributed to 100% egg hatching success and 100% survival success since installation.


The museum has a Māori Gallery that emphasizes the everyday aspects of pre-contact life in Murihiku/(Southland). This includes the processes of adze making, fishing using bone and stone lures, and pastimes and musical instruments.. The natural history gallery presents many aspects of nature in the province, including an emphasis on rare and endangered species such as the kakapo and kiwi, as well as sub-fossil bones of extinct birds such as moa. This gallery also covers subjects such as geology and sea life. "Beyond the Roaring 40's Gallery", interprets the unique and vulnerable Subantarctic themes and was developed utilising both(2) museum and Department of Conservation expertise.


The art galleries feature regular contemporary and historical art exhibitions, both travelling shows and works from permanent collections, often with a regional emphasis which includes Stewart Island and the Subantarctic Islands. The museum has a significant collection of art, photography, ceramics and craft all of which are shown regularly. Of special note is the work by William Hodges " A Maori before a waterfall in Dusky Bay "(1773), and Te Mauri, the large pounamu boulder that travelled to America as part of the Te Maori Exhibition in 1984.

A fossil forest of petrified wood exists at Curio Bay on the southeast coast of Southland. A reconstruction of this, where visitors can walk among the stumps and tree sections of petrified wood 130 million years old, is to be found in front of the museum and where there is also a two-metre bronze tuatara sculpture.


Roaring '40s Exhibition

Southland Museum and Art Gallery, Niho o te Taniwha (the tooth of the taniwha), has grown from a small collection first exhibited in 1869 by Andrew McKenzie in his Invercargill "Scotch Pie House and Museum". The collection was purchased by the Invercargill Athenaeum in 1876 and transferred to the Southland Technical College by 1912.

Although a museum board was formed in 1915, the museum remained under the control of the Southland Education Board until it was constituted under the Southland Museum Board (Inc) in 1939. The original building at the entrance to Queen's Park was built as Southland's New Zealand Centennial memorial and opened in 1942, but without an art gallery, due to insufficient funds. There have been many extensions to the original structure with the art gallery opening in 1960, the additional of the Southland Astronomical Society Observatory in 1972, extensions to the building in 1977 and 1984, a total redevelopment in 1990, and a proposed extension for 2010-2015.

The period of redevelopment from the 1970s to the 1990s was credited to the leadership of Museum Director, Russell Beck, and Chairman of the Southland Museum & Art Gallery Trust Board, Dr Alfred Philip (Alf) Poole (1922–2005).

This 1990 redevelopment enclosed the previous building in a 27 m tall pyramid, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, added dedicated art gallery spaces, a Tuatarium Gallery for the captive tuatara breeding programme, and retailing spaces for the Artworks Cafe, Museum Shop 'Momento' and iSite Invercargill Visitor Information Centre .

The current proposed extension to the museum is planned to take place in over the next few years. The new design (plans available for viewing at the museum) will almost double the interior space available for exhibitions and storage.

Hours and admission

The Southland Museum and Art Gallery is open every day, excluding Christmas Day. Museum hours are weekdays 9.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. and weekends and public holidays 10.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. There is no admission fee to the Southland Museum and Art Gallery but a donation is welcomed.


Southland Museum and Art Gallery Pyramid

The building is the largest pyramid in the Southern Hemisphere. It has a floor space of 5000 m2. It is 45 by 52 metres wide and 427 metres high.

See also


  1. "Southland Astronomical Society". 16 May 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
  2. "Tuatara sex worth the 111-year wait". The Press. 17 March 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2011.

Further reading about former directors

Coordinates: 46°24′19″S 168°21′12″E / 46.4052°S 168.3532°E / -46.4052; 168.3532

External links

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