The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is Tasmania’s quirkiest art gallery. It also happens to be Australia’s largest privately funded gallery and an absolute must when visiting Hobart. MONA promises to serve up what philanthropist owner and curator David Walsh aptly describes as "a subversive adult Disneyland".
The museum building in itself is wildly unusual – three levels cutting into the sandstone of the Derwent River bank take you underground to experience displays of ancient Egyptian mummies and antiquities spliced with provocative and, at times, controversial contemporary artworks.
Instead of labelling the art, MONA provides visitors with the ‘O’ experience, a free audio guide detailing information on the displays which also includes interesting extras like interviews with the artists. The gallery also features an eclectic array of temporary exhibitions, an on-site cinema called Cinemona, and is a venue for regular concerts and gigs, artsy events and the annual Mofo festival of music and art.
Enhancing the totally unique flavour of MONA is the fact that the museum is located on a vineyard – with its own cellar door – where visitors can taste local Moorilla wine or go on a winery tour. Drinking and dining options range from a world-class, Michelin-star affair at the Source Restaurant to the cool, communal vibe of The Golden Hour.
The museum also features a cafe and two bar for casual eating and drinking. For the fully fledged MONA experience, stay overnight by booking one of the Mona Pavilions on the River Derwent, luxury accommodation that comes complete with a shared gym, sauna and heated infinity pool.
MONA is located just 15 minutes’ drive from Hobart’s city centre, but for a truly unique experience, take the 30-minute MR-1 ferry ride to the museum departing from the Mona Brooke Street Ferry Terminal in Hobart. If arriving by bus from Hobart, the metro bus routes 510, 520, 521, 522 and X20 will all get you there.