I’m putting this right out there now, if you are in Hobart and you don’t visit MONA then you have rocks in your head. When someone says to you (in that higher wisdom voice) “oh you simply have to go to see MONA” with the mere mention of Hobart, then you must obey them!
When I visited MONA in Tasmania, I really didn’t know what to expect. MONA stands for Museum of Old and New Art by the way, in case you may have been wondering (don’t worry I wondered that too). I do enjoy art galleries and museums and I have seen a few, some are just awesome and some are – well let’s face it – a little boring.
Not at MONA though, MONA redefines the concept of an art museum, delivering to you a full assault on all your senses. I don’t use that word ‘assault’ lightly either, be prepared to be thrilled, shocked and confronted, yet at the same time, curious and fascinated. I’m telling you it is that brilliant, but don’t take my word for it (well actually you can) go and see it for yourself.
Ferry ride to Mona
When you visit MONA, take the ferry ride down the Derwent River to the museum. MONA has it’s own exclusive ferry called the MONA ROMA and it also has it’s own dock at the museum. The ferry is a great way to view Hobart from the water and pass under and view the Tasman Bridge. Not only that, you can have a glass of wine, a coffee or something to eat on the way, it’s all very civil like – there is even a ‘posh pit’. The posh pit is like having a first class ticket (think Titanic without the sinking part), where you will be served champagne and canapés. The male staff are dressed in grey overalls reminiscent of those from the top gun movie and service is with a smile and a cheeky wink is thrown in there too!
Purchase your tickets at the Ferry Terminal on the Brooke Street wharf in Hobart. This is a combined ferry and MONA ticket. The building also houses a number of tour desks, wine and cheese tasting stations that will keep you entertained whilst you wait for the next ferry.
Mona is Australia’s largest private funded museum and is located on the Moorilla Wines Estate. It was officially opened in 2011 by it’s millionaire owner David Walsh. The actual building itself is set underground and is somewhat of a labyrinth of areas. Part of the design brief was to create a space that gives the element of danger. The atmosphere is dark, with dimmed lighting, no windows and a spiral staircase that takes you deeper and deeper into what appears to be an abyss.
At the beginning of the tour, you are given these handheld mobile devices that help you navigate a tour through the art museum. It works on a GPS that locates items close to you, click on the art you want to know more about. The device will give you an overview of the artist and/or history behind the item. The device is brilliant fun, you can even rate the art too. Select either “love it” or “hate it” and it will give you statistics on how many others rated the same as you. These are a great idea, you can also save the tour for later and have it emailed to you. If you prefer not to read you can get some headphones and listen to the guide as well.
The museum is a mixture of old and new art, but I found the new art the most fascinating. Below is just a small selection of what I saw and experienced whilst touring around the museum. MONA is a museum that must be “experienced” rather than just viewing. The photos I have here don’t convey how you will react or feel towards many items in the flesh.
You have to look inside to see what’s going on in this head
Wim Delvoyes excrement making sculpture or in layman’s terms a poop machine.
The great wall of Vagina’s
Sidney Nolan’s Snake
The eerie life-like girl in a box
Ancient Egyptian mummies entwined with contemporary art.
Just follow the crowd – there will be light at the end of the tunnel
A different take on the pinball machine
Looks like someone had either a bad day or a smashing good day
Mona is part of the Moorilla Winery Estate that produces cool climate wines. The winery is large and houses a cellar door, wine bar, restaurant and function areas. The day I visited was a Saturday and they had entertainment on a large stage, with plenty of space to bring a picnic or sit and have a wine whilst listening.
Cost and other information
Depending on the exhibition being held cost may vary.
For the Matthew Barney exhibition, current prices are $25 (AUS) for adults $20 for concession.
Free entry for Tasmanians and anyone under the age of 18 – ID required.
The MONA ROMA ferry ride costs $20 and is a twenty minute ride down the Derwent River, bookings are essential. You can buy the combined tickets as a ‘walk in’ at the ferry terminal.
Mona is open everyday except Tuesdays and Christmas day.
From the Ferry dock there are 99 steps up to the entrance.
Contact and Location
655 Main Road
Berridale Hobart Tasmania 7011
Tele: +61(3) 62779971
For the Mona website click here