Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)
WHAT SPARKS YOUR INTEREST?
Described by its owner David Walsh as a “subversive adult Disneyland”, MONA is Australia’s largest private museum and one of the most controversial private collections of modern art and antiquities in the world. This unique and provocative art collection will leave a lasting impression with visitors as they explore 3 floors of subterranean architecture, art pieces, and exhibits.
The 3.5 ha site includes the Source restaurant, a function centre, Moorilla winery and vineyard, a cellar door, wine bar, cinema, library, and accommodation pavilions (and Moo Brew, an off site brewery).
MONA also hosts two major annual festivals, the outdoor MOFO festival in the summer, and the wintertime Dark Mofo festival. Both feature large-scale public art, live performances, and plenty of opportunities for excellent food and drink.
Its Impact on TasmaniaWhether you love it or hate it, MONA has indisputedly put Tasmania on the map. For 2013, Lonely Planet named Hobart as one of its top-10 destinations to visit worldwide, highlighting MONA as a key attraction. International tourism has since boomed and drawn in people from around the world who are attracted to this edgy, cultural phenomena.
ExhibitionsThe general collection houses 1900 pieces and counting, and is continually changing and evolving. Be prepared to see celebrated pieces, as well as those that are newly installed. The museum was built to accommodate Sidney Nolan’s Snake (1970-72), a giant Rainbow Serpent mural made of 1,620 paintings. Dedicated to sex and death, the museum features many exhibits that will both enthrall and turn-off unexpecting visitors with its in-your-face candor. Case in point, the museum is home to The Great Wall of Vagina, 151 porcelain vulvas sculpted from real women. Another notable work in its inaugural exhibition is the infamous “poo machine”, Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca Professional, a machine which turns food into excrement. As the name indicates, these cutting edge exhibits sit alongside antiquated pieces of old such as Egyptian mummies. The curators of MONA are Nicole Durling, Olivier Varenne, and Jarrod Rawlins. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & Kim Eijdenberg.
How to Get There & TicketsMona is located at 655 Main Road, Berriedale. Although visitors can reach the museum by car in just 15 minutes from Hobart, many opt to head there by a high speed ferry from Hobart’s waterfront for a 30-minute ride up the Derwent River right to the steps of the museum.
For those that want to be dazzled for a lifetime, MONA also offers an unusual membership program called “Eternity Membership”, which not only includes lifetime free admission but also earns members the right to be cremated and their remains housed in the MONA Cemetery. Image thanks to Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman.
How Long Do I NeedDepending on your taste for the unusual, a visitor could easily spend anywhere from a few hours to multiple days exploring this underground cultural phenomena.
When Can I Go?MONA is open six days a week, closed most Tuesdays.
HistoryThe Moorilla Museum of Antiquities was the precursor to MONA and founded in 2001. It closed in 2007 to undergo $75 million in renovations. MONA as it is known today was opened on 21 January 2011. In May 2011, it was announced that the museum would end its policy of free entry and introduce an entry fee to interstate and overseas visitors while remaining free for Tasmanians.
Riled with controversy over the years since its inception, owner David Walsh has maintained that its intriguing reputation is good for business. Keeping it fresh and weird has certainly been a key to its success and there is likely to be no shortage of it in the future!
ArchitectureFrom street level, MONA appears to be a single-story building and there is little indication of the complex wickedness that lies beneath. In fact, most of the museum is actually underground in order to preserve the heritage setting of the two Roy Grounds houses on the property. Construction entailed digging under and around these buildings to keep them intact. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & Andrew McIntosh.
On initial inspection, there is not much to see as one enters and it’s easy to feel a strong sense of suspense (this is intended). In order to enter the underground labyrinthe, visitors must descend a spiral staircase to begin the exploration, coming back up one level at a time. There are no windows and one can’t help feel that they’re being swept away into Walsh’s fantasyland. James Pearce was Project Architect for the MONA build. The team was led by Principal Architect Nonda Katsalidis in close collaboration with David Walsh.
Food and DrinkSource restaurant is the main venue to catch a meal, but one can also visit the cellar door and wine bar of Moorilla winery and vineyard, which is also on site. Image thanksto Liz Knox.
EntertainmentIn addition to an array of events sprinkled through the year, MONA is also host to two festivals. Each January, their summer festival MOFO features a fascinating mix of music and art. In June, the Dark Mofo winter festival draws people in from around the globe to celebrate centuries-old winter solstice rituals and enjoy art, music, food, film, and more.
David WalshEnigmatic David Walsh is a professional gambler, art collector, and businessman that made his fortune on blackjack and racetrack gambling. Investing hundreds of millions of dollars of his personal fortune to create MONA, Walsh is considered by some a genius who single-handedly put Tasmania on the map. David Walsh married his second wife, American artist and curator Kirsha Kaechele, at MONA in March 2014 in a pagan ceremony. He has three children from different relationships. His unconventional memoir A Bone of Fact was published in October 2014.
What to do
Wine and MONA Experience Tour
Enjoy our personalised full day tour to MONA and the Coal River Valley. We visit three cool climate vineyards, lunch at Wicked cheese & MONA. At the conclusion of your tour you will return to Hobart by the MONA ROMA fast ferry.
It only takes 2 minutes
Where to Stay
Berriedale - Hobart
Situated on a river, this luxury hotel is steps from Moorilla Estate and Museum of Old and New Art. Claremont House and Tasmanian Transport Museum are also within 5 km.
Along with an indoor pool, this hotel has a fitness center and a bar/lounge. Free WiFi in public areas and free self parking are also provided. Other amenities include a lazy river, a sauna, and conference space.
All 8 individually furnished rooms feature free WiFi and Select Comfort beds. Guests can enjoy jetted tubs, and other standard amenities include kitchens with refrigerators and stovetops.
1 night stay
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The Henry Jones Art Hotel
Hobart - South East
Located in Sullivan's Cove, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Franklin Wharf and Salamanca Market. Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens and Cascade Brewery are also within 5 km.
- Luggage storage
- Free WiFi
1 night stay
South Hobart - South East
Situated in the suburbs, this luxury guesthouse is within 2 km of Australian Army Museum Tasmania and Cascade Brewery. Salamanca Market and Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens are also within 5 km.
1 night stay