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The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is an art museum located within the Moorilla winery on the Berriedale peninsula in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. It is the largest privately funded museum in Australia.[1] The museum presents antiquities, modern and contemporary art from the David Walsh collection. Walsh has described the museum as a "subversive adult Disneyland."[2]

Museum of Old and New Art
James Turrell's Amarna at Mona 2015.jpg
James Turrell's Amarna at Mona Tasmania sunset 2015
Museum of Old and New Art is located in Tasmania
Museum of Old and New Art
Location within Tasmania
Former name Moorilla Museum of Antiquities
Established 2011 (2011)
Location Hobart, Tasmania
Coordinates 42°48′46″S 147°15′40″E / 42.81278°S 147.26111°E / -42.81278; 147.26111Coordinates: 42°48′46″S 147°15′40″E / 42.81278°S 147.26111°E / -42.81278; 147.26111
Key holdings
Collection size 400
Visitors 366,534 (2016)
Curator Nicole Durling
Olivier Varenne
Jarrod Rawlins
Architect Fender Katsalidis Architects
Owner David Walsh
Public transit access
Nearest car park On site

MONA was officially opened on 21 January 2011. Along with its frequently updated indoor collection, MONA also hosts the annual MOFO and Dark Mofo festivals which showcase large-scale public art and live performances.



The precursor to MONA, the Moorilla Museum of Antiquities, was founded in 2001 by Tasmanian millionaire David Walsh.[3] It closed in 2007 to undergo $75 million renovations. The new museum was officially opened on 21 January 2011, coinciding with the third MOFO festival. The afternoon opening party was attended by 1,350 invited guests. 2,500 members of the public were selected by random ballot for the evening event which included performances by The DC3, True Live, The Scientists of Modern Music, Wire, Health and The Cruel Sea.[4]


The single-story MONA building appears at street level to be dominated by its surroundings, but its interior possesses a spiral staircase that leads down to three larger levels of labyrinthine display spaces built into the side of the cliffs around Berriedale peninsula.[5][6] The decision to build it largely underground was taken, according to Walsh, to preserve the heritage setting of the two Roy Grounds houses on the property. Walsh has also said that he wanted a building that "could sneak up on visitors rather than broadcast its presence ... 'a sense of danger' that would enliven the experience of viewing art".[7] Most visitors approach by ferry up the River Derwent.[6]

There are no windows and the atmosphere is intentionally ominous. On entering the museum, visitors descend a "seemingly endless flight of stairs", an experience one critic compared with "going down into Petra".[7] To see the art, the visitor must work back upwards towards the surface, a trajectory that has been contrasted with the descending spiral that many visitors follow in New York's Guggenheim Museum.[8]

Katsalidis's architecture for the museum has been praised as not only fulfilling its function as a showcase for a collection, but also succeeding as it "extends and magnifies into an experience ... there is a sense that the work, the lighting, the space and the materiality have been choreographed with subtlety and skill into a singular if hugely idiosyncratic whole."[8]


Operational costs of A$8 million per annum are underpinned by the winery, brewery, restaurant and hotel on the same site.[9] In May 2011, it was announced that the museum would end its policy of free entry and introduce an entry fee to interstate and overseas visitors while remaining free for Tasmanians.[10]

MONA also offers an unusual membership program called "Eternity Membership", which not only includes lifetime free admission but notably earns members the right to be cremated and their remains housed in the MONA Cemetery.[11][12]


The museum was built to accommodate Sidney Nolan's Snake (1970-72), a giant Rainbow Serpent mural made of 1,620 paintings.

The museum houses over 400 artistic works from David Walsh's private collection. Notable works in its inaugural exhibition, Monanism, include Sidney Nolan's Snake, displayed publicly for the first time in Australia;[13] Wim Delvoye's Cloaca Professional, a machine which turns food into excrement;[5] Stephen Shanabrook's On the road to heaven the highway to hell, remnants from a suicide bomber cast in dark chocolate;[14] and Chris Ofili's The Holy Virgin Mary.[5] The curators of MONA are Nicole Durling for Australian contemporary art and Olivier Varenne for international modern and contemporary art.[citation needed]

MONA hosts the outdoor MOFO festival, and the wintertime Dark Mofo, with extensive public art exhibitions amid a fairground setting of food and drink, live music and entertainment. Concert performances planned for 2014 include Striborg, Psycroptic, Chris Thile, and The Julie Ruin.[15][16]


Michael Connor of the conservative literary and cultural magazine Quadrant said that "MONA is the art of the exhausted, of a decaying civilisation. Display lights and taste and stunning effects illuminate moral bankruptcy. What is highlighted melds perfectly with contemporary high fashion, design, architecture, cinema. It is expensive and tense decay."[17]

Richard Dorment, art critic for the UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph, said that Walsh "doesn't collect famous names; his indifference to fashion is one of the strengths of the collection. He likes art that is fun and grabs your attention, that packs a sting in the tail or a punch in the solar plexus."[18]


In October 2012, a writer for the Lonely Planet series of travel guides ranked Hobart as number seven of the top ten cities to visit in 2013, citing MONA as a major tourist attraction in a small city, similar to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Shock of the old and new". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 January 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  2. ^ Young, Kane (24 January 2011). "Biggest shock is the best". The Mercury. Retrieved 17 March 2012. 
  3. ^ "The collector". 14 April 2007. Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  4. ^ Coslovich, Gabriella (21 January 2011). "Hobart's infamous son plays to the gallery". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 22 January 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c Gabriella Coslovich (15 Jan 2011). "A revolt in art". Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Richard Flanagan (21 January 2013). "Tasmanian Devil: A master gambler and his high-stakes museum". The New Yorker. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Neustein, David (28 July 2011). "Museum of Old and New Art". Australian Design Review. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Elizabeth Farrelly (3 November 2012). "Building breaks the mould for all the right reasons". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  9. ^ Michaela Boland (22 January 2011). "Doors open on tycoon's art world". The Australian. Retrieved 22 January 2011. 
  10. ^ "Hobart museum confirms entry fee". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  11. ^ Sarah Cascone (17 March 2015). "Gambling Millionaire David Walsh's Kooky Tasmania Museum MONA Clocks 1 Million Visitors". Artnet News. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  12. ^ "Mona » Cemetery". Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  13. ^ "A brush with greatness". The Mercury. 1 January 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2011. 
  14. ^ Cristina Ruiz (January 2011). "Art's Subterranean Disneyland". Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  15. ^ "Dark MOFO, Tasmania". 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  16. ^ "MOFO 15–19 January 2014". 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  17. ^ Connor, Michael (April 2011). "MONA's brutal banality". Quadrant. Melbourne. Retrieved 17 March 2012. 
  18. ^ Richard Dorment (6 September 2012). "The art of Australia: coast to coast culture". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  19. ^ "MONA helps Hobart make top 10 cities list". ABC News. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 

Further readingEdit

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