Dark, sexy, provocative, trendy, twisted and slightly confusing.
This place was one heck of an experience and I’d almost say it was worth my trip to Tasmania in itself. Bold statement, I know, but I had a blast here. Funny, because I’m no museum-goer, and I’d almost go so far as to say that I actually loathe them.
And it’s not that I don’t like learning and it’s not that I don’t enjoy a bit of history, I just find most museums to be a little dry.
But David Walsh’s Museum of Old and New Art captured me. From the moment you drive into the parking lot you realize what kind of place you’re in. It’s unconventional, funny and just plain bizarre!
There are no captions on any of the artwork; all the information is contained in a customized iPod that they hand out to every visitor. It tracks your location and offers insight into each exhibit based on their physical proximity. Considering this museum was privately funded (and completely free to get in!), they certainly went all-out when putting the place together. It’s been thought through and the entire experience has been constructed from head to toe.
There are three floors of exhibits in juxtaposition, everything seemingly placed at random. It’s easy to get lost in here, but that’s half the fun! Nothing seems to be in order which helps separate each piece from the next. There is such a wide array of exhibits that no single display seems able to relate to the one beside it.
From paintings to walk-through caves, diamonds and dead birds to plaster moldings of female genitalia, the MONA certainly covers it all.
The highlight of the museum was the unopened sarcophagus of Pausiris and a life-size digital rendering of the real skeleton inside. An altogether creepy exhibit but definitely worth the 30-minute wait. Only two people are allowed to enter at a time but I’d highly recommend sticking it out.
One side note–MONA isn’t exactly kid-friendly. They map out where the “child-safe” zones are but, to be honest, it’s nearly impossible to miss the more…extreme…pieces of art. Or maybe it’s just me who has a problem shying away from them.
Altogether, a must see if you’re going to be in Tasmania. And give yourself a half-day (minimum) to see the place. There are nooks and crannies everywhere and short films playing everywhere from on the floor to the ceiling.