MONA – Museum of Old and New Art. There are only a couple of museums in the world like MONA so why there should be one in Tasmania is slightly baffling. MONA divides opinion. Some people we met said ‘You must go. It’s fabulous’ and others said ‘ What a load of rubbish. Don’t waste your money”.

The Museum of Old and New Art is located within the Moorilla Winery on the Berriedale Peninsula just north of Hobart. It’s the largest privately funded museum in Australia financed by David Walsh who apparently made his millions in casinos around the world. As he had been banned from most of the casinos in Australia he wanted to give something back to the people and so this totally whacky place was born.

On arrival the whole area is modern, square and angular. The building itself has no windows and a spiral staircase or the option of a circular glass lift that take you down three levels to a huge labyrinth built into the side of cliffs. Walsh wanted the building to have a sense of danger that would enliven the experience of viewing art and he achieved it. You start from the bottom working your way up to ground level viewing hundreds of exhibits from alternative artists from around the world. You are not allowed to touch anything, not even the cases as they are also viewed as art.

You are each given a hand held device that locks onto the nearest piece of artwork to you. Tap the screen and a full description of the artist and the piece appears. There is old Egyption artwork, live bacteria, music, sound, light, films, books. It is endless and we spent several hours viewing the exhibits. We agreed at the end that we had probably understood about 5% of what we had seen and that was probably the same for the other few hundred people who were there. Nonetheless we found it fascinating and it got you thinking about art in all its different ways. We loved it.

As it was a Sunday they had live music on the lawn outside and a small MONA style market with delicious food and organic ciders and pink beanbags scattered around for you to relax on.

Time was getting on when we left and we had some way to go. We felt we’d done our cultural city bit so it was time to get away from it all and we had found the perfect place – Bruny Island.

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