MONA… What Can We Say?

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. That’s certainly good advice, and something we keep in mind here at Think Tasmania. Have you noticed we haven’t mentioned MONA in any great detail? At least one astute reader did notice, and called us to account. “You haven’t said anything about MONA” she said. “Obviously you don’t have anything nice to say”.

MONA - Musuem of Old and New Art

Visitors arrive via the ferry at the Museum of Old and New Art

MONA: Museum of Old and New Art

Just to set the record straight, we think MONA is absolutely fabulous. We’ve been there; we’ll go there again (many, many times) and we’ve sent plenty a visitor on their merry way to discover the Museum of Old and New Art in Berriedale.


 

There’s three very simple reasons we haven’t previously published any in-depth articles about MONA:

1. What more could we say that hasn’t already been said? Every mainstream and odd-ball media outlet in the world has covered every single nook and cranny already. If you haven’t heard of MONA, you just aren’t listening.

2. You need to see it for yourself to believe it. Words cannot adequately describe what you are going to encounter. You may love it; you may hate it. But you need to make up your own mind.

3. As you’ve probably noticed, we like stories with a serve of photos on the side. We’ve taken a great number of photos during our time at MONA, so we do have images we could share. Some of them are even kind-of acceptable, quality-wise! We just weren’t sure if we should share them. We’ll have a cautious little crack now, and see what happens, hey?

MONA - Photographs

Photographing at MONA… is that allowed?

Visit MONA in Hobart Tasmania

If you’re going to visit MONA, here’s some suggestions from our own personal experience that may be helpful.

Just Do It

Don’t wait. MONA isn’t going anywhere, and you can go anytime, but why wait? If you’re waiting for the hype to die down and the crowds to dissipate, you’re delusional. It’s always going to be popular; there’s always going to be lots of people there. But it’s big. There’s plenty of room for everyone.


 

Don’t Be Scared

We were expecting a confronting or obscene object at every turn, but we didn’t need to shield our prudish, sensitive eyes. At all. Maybe we weren’t looking hard enough. Maybe we didn’t know what we were looking at. Maybe we just took an exceptionally lucky path and missed all the rude bits. If you want rude bits, they’re probably there. If you don’t want rude bits, there’s lots of other stuff.

Allow Lots of Time

Don’t rush your visit, or at least plan to return more than once. You’ll be given a map so you can choose your favourite rooms, but there’s loads of rooms to choose. We glanced over some exhibits, noting they were “weird” and just moved on quickly. Other items we found mesmerising, and would make a specific return trip to study them again. The things we loved, you may hate. And vice versa.

MONA - Tourist Attraction

Armed with a map, the O-Device and headphones at MONA

There’s No Pressure

No one is going to give you a test before you can exit. Don’t be deterred if you’re not an art critic. At MONA, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know shit from clay in the world of art. No one cares what you think. You can think whatever you like, just take it all in and enjoy the experience.

Local Loving

If you’re a Tasmanian resident, take your drivers licence with you. Show it upon entry, and you’ll get in for free. If you’re an adult who doesn’t drive… who knows what happens. Maybe try your library card? Interstate and international visitors should take a $20 note with them. Or a credit card.

Oh No, Not The O

Once you’re in the door, you’ll have a tricky little device in your hand. Apparently it tells you stuff about the art you’re standing near, but I couldn’t work the damn thing. I am not very good with electronics. My kids would love the “O-thingo” but I didn’t. I found it annoying, and I didn’t like the headphones. I prefer to talk and laugh with my companions, and hear the conversation. I am not very patient, and I did not try very hard. You may think it’s the best invention ever.

MONA - O Device

You can look and listen at MONA… the O Device

Drive It Home

You can drive your car there. We have been required to park in the overflow carpark to the overflow carpark before, but we’ve always found a park somewhere. The walk from the boondocks to the entrance did not kill us. Tasmanians expect to park at the front door whenever they go somewhere. We quite often drive around the block to find a better park, if we’re not within 10 metres of our desired destination.


 

Art Goes With Chocolate

If you do drive, the Cadbury Chocolate Factory is five minutes up the road, by car. Head further north (away from the Hobart CBD) to 100 Cadbury Road in Claremont, and load up on chocolates. You’ll have to pay a smallish fee for a tour (which isn’t really a tour but more a “presentation” about cocoa) but they will give you some freebies and point you towards the factory outlet.

MONA - Cadbury Visitor Centre, Hobart

Entrance to the Visitor Centre, Cadbury Chocolate Factory in Hobart

Very Nice Ferry

Lots of promotional material suggests taking the ferry from Hobart; no doubt a good option. A nice boat ride will enhance the visit to MONA, making it a real day-trip adventure. There’s a steep set of steps to negotiate from the Berriedale jetty. If you have a ticket in your hot little hand when you arrive, you will jump ahead of all the plebs in the commuter queue when you get there. They may glare at you.

MONA - Ferry

The original MONA Ferry in Hobart (pre-camouflage days)

MONA - Hobart Ferry

You probably can’t see the MONA Ferry (LHS); it’s camouflaged!!

Whine in the Wine Bar

If all else fails, you can take a seat in the cafe or the wine bar, and purchase refreshments. You may curse Think Tasmania for suggesting the visit. Write us a letter of complaint while you sip your bevvie; we love honest feedback.

MONA - Cafe

MONA Cafe. Can you spot the source of our amusement?

The Underground World of Hobart

Wow! It was enjoyable writing this. We’ll be returning to MONA again soon. There’s probably no point mentioning our favourite works, because they change around all the time. Sidney Nolan’s Snake… why would you take that down? Loved that thing! Also loved the white (or is it blank?) library.

MONA - White Library

The white library (or blank library) at MONA in Hobart

That’s probably weird in itself, to find a room full of nothing appealing, but there you go. The fat red porsche; the mud-splattered wall from the wheel of a pushbike; the garbage bins overflowing with foam; the flashing electron-brain; the wall of Internet water-words. We haven’t seen the Cloaca (aka the poo machine) do its business yet, either! Do we even want to?


 

Much of the museum is underground, and a mild claustrophobic fear was enough to delay our initial visit longer than it should have. The quarried sandstone walls are amazing and reveal the material available to architects in the early days of the Tasmanian colony. You’ll soon forget you’re several levels below ground, right next to a river-full of water. Or will you?

MONA - Moorilla Estate

Sample Moo Brew and Moorilla Estate wines at MONA

For more information, visit the official MONA website or visit in person at 655 Main Road, Berriedale in the northern suburbs of Hobart. Like 60,000 other fans, you can follow MONA – Museum of Old and New Art on Facebook.

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Map: MONA, Hobart Tasmania

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