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MONA, Hobart, Tasmania

Even if you never visit art galleries or museums, you will find something to enthrall or enrage or inspire at MONA.


The Museum of Old and New Art is worth the trip to Hobart alone. Approached by catamaran the Mona Roma MR-1 along a beautiful stretch of the River Derwent, 12 km upstream of Hobart, the gallery is sunk like a mineshaft underground. On arrival you are handed an iPod Touch which acts as your virtual guide, sensing where you are and uploading information and commentary about the art you are experiencing.

MONA Roma and River Derwent, Hobart, Tasmania

At the deepest level is a cocktail bar, an antique furniture relaxation area and the most bizarre toilets, art installations themselves. Ascending you pass through galleries mixing the ancient and the ultra modern, the confronting- I won’t say shocking- and the weird, many pieces commissioned by MONA.

I loved the aptly Untitled (White Library) complete with purely white furniture and books and was astounded by the scope of Sidney Nolan’s Snake, a collage of individual uniquely painted frames that, prefiguring the digital age, coalesce pixel-like to form the giant serpent.

MONA: Sidney Nolan's Snake, Fat Car, Queen (a portrait of Madonna
Exhibits were alternatively funny, challenging or both, such as Fat Car, a grotesquely bloated Ferrari. Or disturbingly ambiguous like Tracey Moffat’s photographic series Something More. Or somber like the watery mausoleum Mummy and Coffin of Pausiris and its three dimensional CT scan reconstruction, which you entered alone or in pairs to heightened your sense of loneliness and mortality.

In Queen (a portrait of Madonna) the singing and dancing videos of acapella amateur performances of the album Like a Payer were simultaneously amusing and poignant. Daniel Crooks’ On Perspective and Motion was mesmerising, an ethereally distorted video of Sydney’s Martin Place into and from which the pedestrians, bystanders and traffic apparated and vanished as from another dimension.

I could go on enthusing about MONA. fortunately I don’t have to remember everything because the iPad can email a record of your visit, retracing your footsteps in a three dimensional map of the museum.

Even if you never visit art galleries or museums, you will find something to enthrall or enrage or inspire at MONA. MONA is a must.