Hobart, Tasmania: A museum for people who hate museums

I don’t profess to know anything about art. I’ve been to museums all over the world and seen the requisite stuff.  Mona Lisa. King Tut. And everybody in between. My feeling is, good art is art that grabs you. Who cares about everyone else?

But when I heard there was a museum in Hobart, Tasmania, that’s been turning heads in the international art world, I added it to my to-do list. Had to see what all the fuss was about.

MONA: the Museum of Old and New Art is a very rich guy’s private art collection. A numbers whiz named David Walsh who made it very big in gambling, and has a thing for eclectic (outrageous, some would say) art.

He spent more than $55 mil to carve the three-story museum out of a hillside and create a home for the collection worth roughly twice that much.  To his credit, the admission price is free. though they get you in the restaurant with passable stuff like pastrami on rye and Eggs Benedict. (There’s also a winery and a brewery.)

Each visitor gets a gadget that works like an iPad. Lets you go at your own pace, then recognizes your location and tells you what you’re looking at.

As usual, didn’t have a lot of time, and didn’t take a lot of pictures, even though it was allowed. I didn’t think I could do the stuff justice and I was chided by a guard when I got too close to a hanging bunch of twigs, or something. There were lots of hanging things. So I held back, not wanting to be thrown out of such a hip place.

There was the old — a Grecian urn. Nothing we haven’t all seen before.

The usual weird car.And something I didn’t feel like taking a picture of because it was just trite.  A wall of vaginas, cast in what looked like plaster. (Didn’t touch; wasn’t that keen to find out.) My iPad informed me that dozens of women, from 18 to 78 posed for the artist. I wasn’t shocked; I was amused. Because it reminded me of that episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte the art gallery manager is trying to court a famous artist. She agrees to let him draw hers, and ends up including it in her gallery’s show.

What did upset me was this supposed “cutting edge” display:

Two goldfish confined to a bowl with a knife cutting across it. I felt sorry for the poor fish maneuvering their way around the blade, and hoped they wouldn’t lose their concentration and slash themselves.

I calmed down long enough to appreciate this waterfall of flowing words. Yes, that’s real water.And grinned in appreciation of the thought behind this empty room.

Outrage, awe and amusement. I came away regretting my lack of time, and thinking what I’d heard a few others saying, “Wow. Hard to believe this is here, when it could be in London or Paris or New York.”

Just what Walsh wanted: to get folks thinking.

This entry was posted in How to travel around the world with just a carry-on, Tasmania and Yarra Valley, Australia and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Hobart, Tasmania: A museum for people who hate museums

  1. WOW! The water is amazing…! And yes, I remember that “Sex and the City” episode…HAHA

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