MONA. (Museum of Old and New Art)
The must do when going to Hobart is to visit Mona. Built into a cliff on the Berriedale Peninsula, (approx 30 minutes from the CBD), it was opened in 2011 and is the brainchild of owner David Walsh, a multimillionaire gambler and art collector. Walsh has described his MONA as a “subversive adult Disneyland” and he’s not far off.
Even before you enter the museum, you realise that this guy means business. His reserved car space is loud and obnoxious. I find it intriguing and kind of cool. He probably doesn’t have a lot of friends.
You enter the museum on the top floor and descend via a spiral staircase deep into the earth. From there, visitors slowly work their way back up towards the light, as there are no windows in the galleries. Walsh’s vision is almost wacky in its ability to entertain. This is not a traditional museum, but one that is designed to sometimes shock, sometimes disturb, but overall initiate discussion.
Each visitor is given the equivalent of an iPhone on a lanyard- there aren’t any signs or labels next to the exhibits. Push a button on your electronic device and all the nearby art exhibits are displayed. Press the button for your exhibit of choice to learn about it. Hit “Gonzo” and get a summary; press “Art Wank” and receive greater detail about the piece. You may learn more about the art, the artist or even details on how the curator obtained the piece.
The sheer volume of the rock face around you is amazing. The art work is provocative and very sexual, it is still ok for kids as it is easy to by pass the super weird gallery section. But parental discretion is advised. Plaster cast vaginas line one wall, and the ‘poo machine’ is hard to miss. This section has working machinery mimicking our digestive system. It smells wretched. I feel sorry for the security guy who drew the short straw on that look out. And they call it art!
Then that part of the day when you head out to the open ‘cellar door’ grassed area. Grab a bottle of the local wine, a platter of food and relax in over sized beanbags while listening to the musical talent of the alternative band performing. I felt like I was at a rad music festival. And I was 21…It was fine.
MONA is a full on brand and business. Transport options are numerous. The Mona ferry can take you from Salamanca to the museum, the Mona Hummer can pick you up bring you to the museum and deliver you safety back to your hotel, The Mona bike hire is available from the Brook St ferry, The Mona seaplane…well, you would if you could…
Plus you can book your wedding, Christmas lunch, a function, a birthday…a conference…or hang out alone in the venue centre or restaurant. Spoilt for choice.
So next time you are in Tassie…. go to MONA…it is an intensely visceral, thoroughly engaging, conversation starter. (Oh..and if you visit the rest room…sit down and relax…then look overhead..and enjoy the image…if you dare)