10 reasons to visit MONA Hobart.
MONA- The Museum of Old and New Art. The brainchild of eclectic millionaire gambler David Walsh is one of the most important new draw cards for Australian tourism. Locals suggest that Tasmania’s tourism industry has grown by an astounding 30% simply because of the popularity of this museum.
After building his fortune in the gambling word David Walsh began collecting modern art- strange, shocking, beautiful, evocative art. After purchasing an existing winery, on the banks to the Derwent river just outside of Hobart, Walsh opened the museum showing off parts of his antiquity collection, including many Egyptian artefacts. Unfortunately (fortunately really) the museum was unpopular and seemingly unsuccessful. The museum was closed and underwent a drastic upgrade. MONA was born. Home to the most bizarre and eclectic mix of art, this is a clear reason why people should go to Tasmania.
Here are the ten most important reasons why you should visit: (in no particular order)
No 10. The journey there and back again. The simplest and most popular way to get to the museum is by its private ferry system. Board the ferry at the wharf in Hobart and be swept along the river to arrive at the museum within 30minutes. Onboard you can select to have a foodie experience- with canapés and drinks provided- but or sit back and watch the scenery. The museum is famous for its view from the water- it looks as though you are approaching a Bond villains lair. Who doesn’t love that?
No. 9. The poo machine. Yes you read that correctly. One of the most notable exhibits in the collection is the infamous poo machine. Created by Wim Delvoye Cloaca Professional (‘the poo machine’) simulates the digestive system in real-time. The machine is feed daily and then begins a bacterial process, similar to that of a human body, to break down the food until it reaches its natural end….Yes I mean it poops. At 2pm every afternoon the machine defecates. This isn’t for the faint hearted! Truth be told the exhibit smells from the reaction so I decided not to stay, yet many consider it the highlight of their visit. Gross I know!
No.8. The booze. MONA is home to the Moorilla winery, which was established prior to Walsh’s purchase of the land. The vines here produces a variety of grapes including chardonnay, pinot noir and syrah. All of which are pressed and matured on site. There is also the brewery which has become quite successful in its own right for its Moo Brew. There is a cellar door at the museum which is an excellent spot to recover in the afternoon, as well as a bar in the depths of the museum.
No. 7. The Food. Eating badly in Tasmania is practically a sin. The environment here creates perfect produce and generally when you have produce of this quality it’s hard to get a terrible dish. There is a restaurant and cafe at the museum which is a great spot to refuel in the afternoon. For me Tasmania screams fresh seafood, and the oysters served here at MONA are especially delightful. My perfect foodie afternoon was spent sitting in the cellar door with a plate of oysters, a board of local cheeses and a few glasses of the rose sparkling. Great produce done simply – perfection!
No. 6. The snake. Renowned Australian artist Sidney Nolan’s masterpiece ‘The Snake’ finally found its permanent home at MONA. This huge work (made up of over 1600 smaller works) had previously never been able to find a museum large enough to exhibit it in its entirety. Walsh purposefully had the curved wall (how the artist had ideally intended it to be viewed) designed simply to house the work. It’s a wonder to view in the flesh.
No. 5. The architecture. The museum was built into the cliff face of the river bank and uses its natural sandstone walls as its key feature. You descend down a spiral staircase into the under ground museum. It’s building is as much a piece of art as the exhibits that it houses. If you are a lover of buildings this is one not to miss.
No. 4. Sex and Death. The motto, creed and mission statement for the entire collection of work. Walsh isn’t trying to show you work you will like. You don’t have to like it. Don’t come expecting to see the classic masters. Many people will be shocked, disgusted, or disappointed by the work they see here, but come prepared to be challenged and with an open mind. You won’t find work like this anywhere else.
No. 3. The outdoor exhibits. The art creeps outside the walls of the museum. There are many large sculptures featured in the grounds. My personal favourite is Roman Signer’s Engpass found in the car park.
No. 2. The fish in the bowl with the knife. Jannis Kounellis’s Untitled work is the piece that really hit me the most. A single wooded chair is situated in the corner of a room. It looks like the security guards chair. On top of the chair is a white bowl filled with water. In the water is a kitchen knife and two live gold-fish. There was something about its simplicity that touched me.
No. 1. The O. MONA created the O system so that patrons can engage with the works. Upon entry you will be handed an IPOD with the app already installed. As you walk through the museum it will update to tell you the works you are looking at. On the app it gives descriptions of the work, interesting information about its creation, as well as interviews with the artist or with David Walsh. The system has become so successful that it has been branded and sold to many other museums worldwide.
No. Other things to love about MONA:
- The festivals. Twice a year MONA runs large international arts festivals. In the summer you have MONA FOMA a music festival at the museum, and in winter DARK MOFO where the art and performance take over the city of Hobart. I experienced the winter festival this year and cannot recommend it highly enough.
- It’s key exhibits. I was luckily enough to time my visit to Tassie with the closing of the Marina Abramovic Private Archaeology exhibition. The most moving art experience I had was counting thousands of rice and lentils in a silent room. I was there for hours and it was a truly enlightening experience.