The Invercargill City Council has voted to fast-track building of the new Southland Museum and Art Gallery.
The museum has been closed since 2018 after it was found to be an earthquake hazard.
Earlier this year, the council signed off $39.4 million to develop a new 3550 square metre museum at Queens Park to be completed in the 2026-2027 financial year along with a storage facility at Tisbury and a new home for the tuatara.
Councillors unanimously agreed to accelerate the build so it can be finished by December 2025, during an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday.
Construction is due to start on the Tisbury storage facility early next month and be completed by the following December.
Demolition of the current museum is due to begin as soon as the collection is moved to the new storage facility.
Invercargill mayor Nobby Clark said it was a big step forward to getting the rebuild under way.
“We’ve committed to this project and we will get it done. The people of Invercargill have been asking for a new museum for a long time and it’s only right that we do everything in our power to provide that. I have complete confidence that this can be done,” Clark said.
Project 1225 lead, councillor Nigel Skelt confirmed the fit-out and opening date would come later in 2026.
“Project 1225 gives us a clear timeline and marks the date of December 2025 when we will aim for completion of the base build of the museum,” he said.
“We acknowledge that there are larger risk factors that come with the accelerated project but we also know how passionate our community has been around the museum and we want to push forward and give Southlanders this new facility as soon as we can.”