Returning to Tasmania twenty eight years after our last visit, one of the things I really wanted to visit was MONA; Bill not so sure.
I first learnt of MONA (the Museum of New and Old Art) when watching the now defunct ABC television show Collectors in 2011 and had wanted to visit this unique, privately owned museum ever since.
I have read various reviews about the place and was aware that some of the art could be contentious or not my ‘cup of tea’ but at the same time I liked what this place, owned by super rich professional gambler David Walsh, was doing for Tasmania: Hobart in particular. Walsh has added another reason for people to visit this gorgeous island, particularly important as local tourism, a major income source for the Tasmanians, seems to be in competition with people choosing to travel overseas for the same dollar value.
It took us about 25 minutes to drive to MONA from our accommodation in Sandy Bay, on a freezing autumn morning – it was so cold the frost alert chimed in on our car dashboard. We arrived half an hour early (the museum opens at 10 am) so managed to stroll around the grounds for a short time. MONA also has its own vineyard and with it its own flock of insect and bug eaters which were already hard at work, except that is for two hens and three roosters who seemed happy to let other poultry till the soil first.
By the time 10 am had arrived the passengers from the ferry were queuing up to get inside the museum.
Tasmanians get free admission, while others pay a small fee to wander the monolithic building. Once inside we were given a paper directory and then directed to go downstairs and get our O reader. This ipod-like-device gives information about most of the art on display, with a summary of the pieces you see as you wander the three levels.
Some pieces have extra information, euphamistically labelled Art Wank. I loved this device, however Bill found it impossible to read and the darkness of the museum made the paper directory a challenge for both of us to read.
I am not going to describe the art or the museum any further, suffice to say we re-emerged some three hours later – and that was without seeing everything because MONA was in preparation for its RED QUEEN June event and so some art work, for instance the massive modernist work Snake, that was painted by Sidney Nolan in the early 1970s, was either off limits or in the process of being taken down.
Should you go visit MONA? Yes, either to marvel at the artworks that are on display, or as Bill did, to marvel at the sheer massive task Walsh had in devising and getting built this structure (around 5 years) out of the side of a hill.
The imagery I have posted is all copyrighted to me and I have obtained permission from MONA to post them onto my website.
I hope you enjoy this peep into a fabulous art institution.
MONA is open every day except Tuesdays. Go to http://www.mona.net.au for program information.