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Museum of Old and New Art

Museum of Old and New Art
Museum of Old and New Art is located in Tasmania
Museum of Old and New Art
Location within Tasmania
Established 2011 (2011)
Location Hobart, Tasmania
Key holdings
  • Monanism
  • Ten Years of Tears
  • The Red Queen
Visitors 210,300 (2012) [1]
Curator Nicole Durling
Olivier Varenne
Owner David Walsh
Public transit access
Nearest car park On site

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.[2] The museum presents antiquities, modern and contemporary art from the David Walsh collection. Walsh has described the museum as a "subversive adult Disneyland."[3]

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.


  • History 1
    • Architecture 1.1
    • Expenses 1.2
  • Exhibits 2
    • Reception 2.1
  • Tourism 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The precursor to MONA, the Moorilla Museum of Antiquities, was founded in 2001 by Tasmanian millionaire David Walsh.[4] It closed in 2007 to undergo $75 million renovations. The new museum was officially opened on 21 January 2011, coinciding with the third MONA FOMA 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 True Live, The Scientists of Modern Music, Wire, Health and The Cruel Sea.[5]


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.[6][7] 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".[8] Most visitors approach by ferry up the River Derwent.[7]

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".[8] 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.[9]

Katisilidis's architecture for the museum has been appraised 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."[9]


Operational costs of A$8 million per annum are underpinned by the winery, brewery, restaurant and hotel on the same site.[10] 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.[11]


Sidney Nolan's Snake (1970-72) was the original centrepiece of the museum.

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;[12] Wim Delvoye's Cloaca Professional, a machine which turns food into excrement;[6] Stephen Shanabrook's On the road to heaven the highway to hell, remnants from a suicide bomber cast in dark chocolate;[13] and Chris Ofili's The Holy Virgin Mary.[6] The curators of MONA are Nicole Durling for Australian contemporary art and Olivier Varenne for international modern and contemporary art.

MONA hosts the outdoor Psycroptic, Chris Thile, and The Julie Ruin.[14][15]


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."[16]

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."[17]


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.[18]

See also


  1. ^ "MONA – first twelve months of TVS data". Tourism Tasmania ( 
  2. ^ "Shock of the old and new".  
  3. ^ Young, Kane (24 January 2011). "Biggest shock is the best".  
  4. ^ The Collector. In The Age, 14 April 2007
  5. ^ Coslovich, Gabriella (21 January 2011). "Hobart's infamous son plays to the gallery".  
  6. ^ a b c Gabriella Coslovich, A revolt in art, The Age, 15 January 2011
  7. ^ a b  
  8. ^ a b Neustein, David (28 July 2011). "Museum of Old and New Art". Australian Design Review. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  9. ^ a b  
  10. ^ Boland, Michaela (22 January 2011). "Doors open on tycoon's art world".  
  11. ^ "Hobart museum confirms entry fee".  
  12. ^ "A brush with greatness".  
  13. ^ Art's Subterranean Disneyland, UTNE Reader
  14. ^ "Dark MOFO, Tasmania". Tourism Tasmania. 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  15. ^ "MOFO 15–19 January 2014". MONA. 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  16. ^ Connor, Michael (April 2011). "MONA's brutal banality".  
  17. ^ Dorment, Richard (29 November 2012). "The art of Australia: coast to coast culture", The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  18. ^ "MONA helps Hobart make top 10 cities list".  

External links

  • Official website
  • Extract from The Making of MONA, by Adrian Franklin, Penguin Books Australia
  •, Art on the Far Side
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