MONA – The Old and New Art Museum of Tasmania is a must visit place


For years, I’ve had the Museum of Old and New Art of Tasmania (MONA) on my bucket list after seeing it listed in the Lonely Planet travel guide’s 100 best places in the world to visit.

I have traveled extensively and I must admit I found it a little strange that a relatively new Australian museum could be placed at number 20 on the list. But having recently checked MONA off my “must have” list, I can assure you that it really deserves it.

A trip to MONA should be considered an all-day affair, not only because there’s so much to do, but also because you’ll likely need a step outside for a brain break.

Opened in 2011 and created by David Walsh, Australian businessman, art collector, professional gamer and somewhat eccentric millionaire, MONA is as much a sensory and interactive experience as it is visual.

Costing over $75 million, the architecture and design of this massive museum is stunning and unconventional as it is mostly underground. But the MONA experience actually begins long before you descend into the maze of underground galleries.

The dedicated ferries that take you from Hobart to MONA are working to set the stage for what lies ahead. With interiors designed to evoke images of James Bond and Austin Powers, these swanky vessels are well worth wandering around on the short trip down the River Derwent.

Once you arrive at MONA Pier and have climbed the 99 steps to the entrance, you really should pause, resist the temptation to enter right away, and instead spend some time exploring the vast land with its original and beautiful sculptures, creative landscaping and architecture. landscaping.

Take some time to play with your reflection on the curved mirror at the entrance to the museum and get ready for an unforgettable experience.

MONA presents itself as a maze of rooms, corridors, tunnels and open spaces. Unlike traditional museums, there aren’t brightly lit rooms with artwork hanging on pristine white walls; instead, you’ll see innovative lighting techniques that create atmosphere and reverence. There are also no artwork labels as all information is provided by the museum’s phone app called The O.

While you’ll find famous names such as Pablo Picasso, Sidney Nolan and Brett Whiteley gracing the walls, MONA really is the museum of it all. Sitting next to works by well-known artists, you’ll see random, yet carefully selected and displayed ancient artifacts, and imaginative contemporary art installations.

As you sneak through the galleries, you’ll also come across plenty of resting spots. Funky couches, plush ottomans, and ornate throne-like chairs are placed to encourage you to sit back and take in the surroundings. There are also a few cocktail bars and even live music, so allow yourself some time to linger.

Of particular note is the portrait gallery where the artwork is displayed on an extensive wall of mirrors designed with the clever intention that when you look at it you are adding your face to the gallery wall.

Another room, which I myself would have missed if someone hadn’t told me about it, is the Ladies Lounge. This is a women-only space, with no signage or fanfare outside, but identifiable by vast green velvet curtains and an attendant at the entrance. What you find inside is constantly changing and is definitely something to watch out for.

It is impossible to avoid the fact that there will likely be works of art and art installations that visitors will find confronting, controversial and even puzzling. But pushing the boundaries and sticking his tongue out at the conventional art establishment is something creator David Walsh doesn’t shy away from. And for every work of art that bothers you, there will be ten times as many that will make you sigh in awe and wonder.

If you are into art, architecture, interior design and things a bit left of center; put MONA at the top of your to-do list.

Getting there is half the fun.

MONA ferries depart from Brooke St Pier in Hobart every hour. Reservations are essential and should be made well in advance and booked at the same time as your museum tickets.

The journey takes 25 minutes and there is a cafe on board.

Tickets are $23 round trip or you can pay $58 for a Posh Pit ticket that includes free drinks, tiny snacks, and inflated egos.

Although you can also drive there, it is not encouraged as parking is limited.

Enter… prepare to be amazed.

Admission tickets must be purchased in advance as there are entry times throughout the day to avoid overcrowding. Admission is $30 or $27 for concession card holders. Simply ask for a “pass-out” if you go out to eat so you can get in for free.

Food and drink.

Stroll outside to MONA’s on-site dining venues. There are a few fancy restaurants (reservations essential) and a large outdoor dining area with live music, hundreds of beanbags and umbrellas (no reservations required). There are also plenty of wine and beer options.

Download the MONA app

Download The O app – which will automatically load artwork details as you move through the museum. It also saves where you went so you can read exhibits at a later date and read what you missed.

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