Last week while in Hobart I visited MONA – the Museum of Old and New Art, in the northern suburb of Berridale. This is no ordinary ‘house of art’, and one shouldn’t be fooled by the sight (top photo) of the building from the River Derwent. (I went by Catarmaran, the Mona Roma, and I highly recommend this way of visiting MONA).
I am not a world traveller, but I can assure you that from what I have read and now seen, MONA is world class. It is so popular that it is now Tasmania’s biggest tourist attraction and it’s not hard to see why. It is considered one of the best galleries on the planet, an accolade that regularly draws visitors from mainland Australia and overseas.
The gallery is situated underground, housed in a huge bunker carved out of a sandstone peninsula. It may look ‘humble’ from the outside, but once inside one is transported into a world of history and contemporary thinking and stunning architecture. There are 3 levels of exhibits that will intrigue and challenge everyone, especially those with a conservative view of art. There are exhibits that shock and some that interact with viewers. I’m not giving a detailed account of what I saw, but I do urge you to visit MONA if you can.
None of the exhibits are labelled, instead you are given a device and headphones that will tell give you the relevant information. Your tour can then be sent to your email account for personal viewing at a later date. This is a brilliant idea and I enjoyed reviewing what I had seen when I returned home.
I was amazed with the number of retirees that were present. Everyone that I spoke to enjoyed their visit. I suppose the fact that there is no other gallery in Australia like MONA, is the reason for its popularity. For whatever reasons they come, the visitors just keep coming. What a wonderful asset for Tasmania!