Tasmania is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. It’s almost like going back in time, with acres of untouched wilderness and old colonial towns full of history, intrigue and, sometimes, sadness. What I was not expecting when I visited Tasmania earlier in the year, was to explore the most mind-blowing, over-stimulating and sensational modern arts museums in the world.
Welcome to MONA – the Museum of Old and New Art.
MONA is located in Hobart, and is the largest privately funded museum in the Southern Hemisphere. Created by David Walsh, a professional gambler, art collector and businessman, it houses his extensive art collection (1,900 pieces). Be aware upon entering the museum, that most of the art work centres around themes of sex and death, and it can be a bit of a sensory overload.
The museum embraces modern art in every possible way from the art works on display, to the architecture of the building, to the ferry you can take to get to the museum.
Here is my experience of exploring MONA.
There are three ways you can get to MONA. You can drive your self, catch the bus, or you can take the MONA Ferry….which I strongly recommend.
The MONA ferry picks you up from the Franklin Wharf, and takes you on a 30 minute ride to the museum. You can choose to upgrade to the Posh Pit or add a wine tasting tour to your booking. I just booked a standard ticket for $22 AUD and it was the. Best. Thing. Ever.
The ferry has a fully stocked bar with snacks and small meals on offer at affordable prices. One of the best parts of this experience was getting to sit on a sheep seat – something the ferries have become well-know for.
Consider the ferry a low-key taste of what to expect at the museum.
The Museum is almost daunting upon approach. It is huge, and while it appears to be on street level, upon entering you descend down a spiral staircase into an underground labyrinth with displays hidden in various nooks and rooms.
I highly recommend grabbing a hand-held Ipod-like device that tracks your position in the museum, and provides you with information about the various artworks you will see.
A great bonus is that there are two bars located in the museum so you can quench your thirst while you explore, and there are two restaurants on the museum grounds.
I’m not going to try and explain the art to you since it really is indescribable and should be experienced. Instead, I’ll just include some photos of a few of the exhibits with some sporadic, and probably unnecessary, commentary. Not all of the art works were easy to photograph, so you’ll have to accept my apologies for the lack of photos.
This display was a little trippy. The room was completely dark except for the black light and some white string tied into squares. Together, the light and the string created this optical illusion that the knots in the string were moving up and down.
Remember the part where I said this museum centred around themes of death and sex? Here’s an explicit example. These mechanic skeletons were mimicking sex surrounded by mirrors and cameras which filmed the skeletons.
This machine created words out of water. The words were linked with the daily news, displaying the most frequently used words. I took about a billion photos trying to capture the words as clearly as possible.
The view inside the head of a display at MONA. The book closed, the birds flew and the apples went from ripe to a rotten core. It didn’t video very well.
This is part of their general collection. There were 151 individual moulds.
The Coloaca Professional poo machine worked the same way as the real bowl system following the gastroenterological journey. Every couple of hours it produced ‘poo’.
I’m an artist in the making.
If you get a chance to go to Tasmania, MONA definitely needs to be on your Bucket List. Just make sure you put a full day aside so you can get the best experience.