Experience The Bizarre ‘Mona’ Museum in Hobart

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If you are going to Tasmania, you must experience the ‘Mona’ in the capital city of Hobart? What is Mona? It is the Museum of Old and New Art, a totally different encounter, definitely not your typical art museum, that’s for sure. You will love it or hate it. Either way, you have to check it out for yourself. Are you intrigued? Let me explain.

experience Mona in Hobart
Flat Bed Truck, Trailer and Cement Truck, Wim Delvoye

The most popular tourist attraction in Tasmania

I recently went to visit this major tourist attraction that has put the island of Hobart in Australia well and truly on the map. It’s one of the main destinations here in the state, that everyone is flocking to see since it opened in 2011. Mona is the largest privately owned museum in the Southern Hemisphere and is the creation of professional ex-gambler, mathematician, millionaire and art collector, David Walsh, a local Tasmanian. The location is absolutely stunning.

experience Mona in Hobart
View of Berridale Bay from Mona

From the outside it doesn’t look like a museum at all. No signage leaves you pondering how on earth to get in to the place. Entry is through a large wonky, mirrored wall, which I wouldn’t have known, except that I saw a couple of people walking through.

experience Mona in Hobart
Mona front entrance wall, Matthew Harding

The Mona building

The building itself is a structural work of art, built into the cliff face. The galleries are all underground on several levels, with a spiral staircase, tunnels, ramps and steps everywhere. No windows at all make it rather dark and dungeon-like, and a bit spooky. It’s basically a cave of mazes.

How to explore Mona

There is no right or wrong way to explore the museum, just let your senses guide you and be absorbed by the artwork. Do you like that idea? I found it best not to take it all too seriously. Make of it what you will, get lost in the insanity and just have fun. That is the best way to experience Mona.

Gorgeous limestone walls
experience Mona in Hobart
experience Mona in Hobart
Through the glass triangle to Sternenfall / Shevirath ha Kelim, 2007, Anselm Kiefer
experience Mona in Hobart
experience Mona in Hobart

Huge, amazing & bizarre art of Mona

Mona was built to accommodate certain large construction pieces of art that the owner wanted to mainly showcase here. Some of the art is indeed massive and takes up a whole room. Such as this one below.

My favourite piece – Snake, Sidney Nolan
Beside Myself, James Turrell
Porsche Fat Car
Artifact, Gregory Barsamian – you can see inside the mind
White House, Ai Weiwei

Mona is all about immersing yourself in the amazing exhibits, not merely looking at art hanging on the walls, as is usually the case with most traditional museums. Here you are surrounded by the art, making you part of it. It actually plays with your mind, which of course is the intention. There is old and new art mixed together. About 2,000 pieces from all around the world, ancient and contemporary, are displayed randomly. I would ultimately describe the world of Mona as unconventional to downright bizarre.

The art is regularly changed, so you’ll probably see different things next time you visit.

I love this waterfall of words.

Collect the ‘O’ device

When you arrive at the front desk, you can collect an ipod-like device called an ‘O’ which you hang around your neck and use it on its own or with headphones. Both of these items you can use free of charge.

There is no information plaques on the walls, so I recommend you grab one of these handy devices or you will wander around in a state of confusion, which is totally fine with the owner too. The ‘O’ is also a scanner and will provide information on the pieces of art, artists’ names, details of the works, and more, using built-in GPS that senses where you are standing and the location of the various art pieces near you. I love this system. You don’t have to follow any particular order.

The ‘O’ device

Confronting pieces at Mona

You will no doubt be confronted with art that will shock you and leave you speechless. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Some of the art is rude and offensive to certain people. Some is funny and exciting. Other pieces are eccentric and will just leave you feeling perplexed. Take from it what you will. After all, art is different things to different people, and all that jazz, isn’t it? The intention here is clearly to be controversial, though provoking and to leave you questioning what art really is. It certainly has given me a new perspective on the relationship between art and the world we live in.

Take this smelly exhibit, for example, it was so stinky in this room that I couldn’t stay here, so I didn’t watch the demonstration of the Poo machine in action. Drats! In fact this display is to raise awareness for bowel cancer.

experience Mona in Hobart
The smelliest room at Mona – Cloaca Professional – Poo machine, mimics our digestive system.
Lange Eenzame man
experience Mona in Hobart
I loved this psychedelic room.

Final thoughts on Mona

I thought it was absolutely fascinating and lots of fun. I’m definitely glad I went to check it out. I recommend you visit and experience Mona in Hobart for yourself. Be sure to keep an open mind though.

Important Information about Mona

Open: Everyday, except Tuesdays.

Cost: Free for Tasmanians. All others, $28 per adult. Extra exhibits are available and to be paid for separately. You can book online, or at the front desk.

Getting there: By Mona Roma, a specially built Catamaran ferry, from the Port of Hobart. Or a 20 minute drive from the city by car or bus.

Parking: Free.

Location: The Berriedale Peninsula in Hobart.

Time required: Allow 2-3 hours for the art. Longer if you have lunch here.

Snazzy tip: If taking young children, adhere to the warnings before entering certain sections.

Ride on one of these Mona Roma ferries to the museum

Restaurants and Bars at Mona

I had to try out the Mona restaurant overlooking the river and enjoyed some of the Moorilla wine.

experience Mona in Hobart
Faro Restaurant
experience Mona in Hobart
Faro Bar
The Void Bar

There is plenty to explore above ground too. Trampoline, gardens, picnic ground, and a tennis court (not sure why) and more playful art. Mona is also part of the Moorilla Winery, where events and festivals are held regularly throughout the year.

experience Mona in Hobart
Moorilla vineyard at Mona
experience Mona in Hobart
Grounds of winery at Mona
experience Mona in Hobart
View from the Mona cafe

Tours you may like

So what do you think? Have I inspired you to visit and experience the Mona Museum in Hobart? Leave me any comments below.

See ya.

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13 thoughts on “Experience The Bizarre ‘Mona’ Museum in Hobart

  1. I have never been to Tasmania, so first of all I have to say that Berridale Bay looks really pretty! Then, about the museum, it must be an interesting visit. It made me think a bit of Centre Pompidou, but brought to a higher, more intense level.

  2. Excellent article!! MONA looks interesting, intriguing, at times surreal and of course insanely fun. I loved how your photographs showed the many different facets of the place and it only increases the curiosity and makes me want to experience it first hand. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  3. I would typically say I’m not much of a museum person, but this place looks very intriguing. I really like how it can make you feel many different emotions.

  4. What an interesting and unique place and that waterfall of words was so amazing. It surely looks like a fun experience and I would love to visit this museum someday.

  5. What a fun and interesting museum. I love that you get to immerse yourself and experience the art as opposed to just staring at it. Good call to grab an O device. I normally don’t grab those self guided tech devices, but it looks like it would be a good idea here since there is nothing on the walls to explain the art pieces.

  6. Ohh, my friends in Adelaide told us about this place a while back after they had a trip over to Tassie and ever since I have been dying to go but never got around to it! It looks just as surreal and fascinating as they described it!

  7. This museum looks amazing, crazy and interesting and is one museum I want to hit up. Not a big fan of museums, usually I only go in them when I am interested in seeing something and this I would love to see. Gotta get to Hobart first, a long way for me from London, UK 😀

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