Volunteers and those with an interest in history gathered as the ribbon was cut on the Eden Killer Whale Museum's (EKWM) extension providing additional space over two levels for new galleries, a new viewing deck and a lift for greater accessiblity.
EKWM president Jack Dickenson said the museum had been over at the Eden site for more than 80 years but it was in 2015 that the committee started to consider major renovations.
"In 2015 the cruise ships started to arrive and people expected to go floor to floor with ease," Mr Dickenson said.
The committee looked at retrofitting the building but it couldn't be done and more space was needed. The EKWM committed $650,000 of its own funds and received federal government funding of $640,000.
Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said there were roadworks going on around the building at the same time as the extension works but the result was "a great outcome for the Bega Valley".
"This is the most visited place in the shire and it comes back to the volunteers. This is something the whole Bega Valley should be proud of," Cr Fitzpatrick said.
Even while the official ceremony took place a steady stream of visitors could be seen in the galleries above.
Greg Lissaman is the museum adviser to the shire and is working with museums and geneology societies to help improve the visitor experience. He will be holding focus groups to discuss the concepts for Eden killer whale stories.
Mr Lissaman said they would be looking to provide "an enduring comtemporary cultural persective", one that paid much greater respect respect to Aboriginal culture. In looking at how the EKWM might present its stories in the future he had widely visited other museums that talked about whales.
"But here you are the story, this is your story," Mr Lissaman said.
EKWM board member Robert Whiter paid tribute to Mr Dickenson and also to John Moffatt of Pambula.
"He is an outstanding contributor to the museum as an engineer. It's through his skill that the concrete beams above you are holding up the ceiling in this room," Mr Whiter said of Mr Moffatt who offered to be the clerk of works for the project.
Mr Whiter said the shaft for the new lift had cost $50,000 while the lift itself had cost $100,000 with the lift machinery coming from France
Before cutting the ribbon on the new space member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain acknowledged Uncle Ossie Cruse who gave the Welcome to Country and reminded everyone of Uncle Ossie's leading role in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Ms McBain also thanked the board, employees and volunteers of the EKWM for "making it the most visited place in the shire".
More than 55,000 people are expected to visit the facility each year and many will come from the expanding cruise ship market.
"It will also help boost visitor numbers for the Sapphire Coast, providing greater economic benefits to the region's economy by increasing museum admissions and retail sales within the local Eden community," Ms McBain said.
The audience was also treated to music from Steve Mahony and Peter Skelton.
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