Since its inception, the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) has become one of Hobart's most popular tourist attractions. This says a lot about the independent spirit of Hobart, since Mona is not your usual museum.
Opened in 2011, Mona is Australia's largest private gallery. It houses owner David Walsh's extensive art collection, as well as hosting rotating exhibitions from major contemporary artists.
Located on Moorilla Estate in Berriedale, Tasmania, the building was designed by Nonda Katsalidis in association with Antarctica Architects. Mona is built into the landscape, tunneling down through the Triassic sandstone to create three subterranean levels. Whilst most museums have imposing entrances featuring huge staircases or grand pillars, at Mona's entrance you'll find ...a tennis court, because Walsh likes tennis.
The artwork inside is just as unusual: the evolving collection, Monanisms, includes Wim Delvoye's stomach-churning 'digestive machine', Cloaca Professional; Mat Collishaw's Bullet Hole and Stephen Shandabrook's On the road to heaven the highway to hell, which consists of the remains of a suicide bomber cast in chocolate. Mona has also played host to top international artists such as Matthew Barney and Marina Abramovic.
When you enter the museum you can opt to use a state-of-the-art device called The O. It's basically an iPod in a fancy case with custom software that allows you to read more about the artwork, since the museum doesn't use labels on the walls. You can also listen to interviews with the artists or to David Walsh's own thoughts about the pieces, which may help you answer the age-old question, 'But is it art?'
In addition to the art exhibitions, Mona also hosts events such as talks, music concerts and music and arts festivals like Mofo and Dark Mofo, which take place in summer and winter respectively. Furthermore, the surrounding Moorilla Estate has its own winery and vineyard offering tastings and tours. There is also an off-site micro-brewery, Moo Brew. There are bars, a cafe and a cinema and, if you want to stay longer, the Mona Pavilions offer accommodation. Diehard fans can even purchase 'eternal membership' and have their ashes placed in the museum, to stay in the wonderfully strange place forever.
While a great part of Mona's popularity is due to the fact that it's anything but a stuffy, high-brow museum for art snobs only, its spectacular setting certainly helps too. The estate has been built on the Berriedale Peninsular, which juts out from the western bank of the Derwent River. It's about 12 km upriver from the Hobart CBD.
Getting to Mona is part of the fun too. You can travel by car or or bus or hire a bike at the Mona ferry terminal in the CBD or if you want to opt for some serious VIP treatment, helicopter or seaplane flights are available too. Most people choose to come here on the Mona ferry though. The ferry departs from its own terminal in Brooke Street and there are regular sailings throughout the day. You can choose a regular seat or a more luxurious on complete with complimentary refreshments, in the Posh Pit. On the way, be on the lookout for landmarks and points of interest such as the Tasman Bridge, Risdon Cove and the Bowen Bridge.
The museum is open every day except Tuesdays and Christmas Day. The museum itself opens at 10:00 and remains open until 18:00 in summer and 17:00 in winter.
Article written by Megan Reeder Hope.Museum of Old and New Art655 Main Rd, Berriedale, Tasmania 7011Telephone : (03) 6277 9900www.mona.net.au