Sometimes you find amazing things in the most unexpected places. Going to Tasmania I expected wilderness and Tasmanian devils. I did not expect MONA.
The museum of old and new art lies on the edge of Hobart. It is big, it is exciting, and it is mostly underground.
It starts like many modern art museums: spending too much time finding a parking place, walking a long way to the entrance, all the while wondering if this is part of some elaborate performance piece. Which it was not.
We had read that the museum has both an inside and an outside collection, but that is an exaggeration. Two or three sculptures near your entrance does not constitute am outside collection. They do however have an amazing inside collection.
The first thing to notice is the interior itself – the intricate staircase in the middle of the building is a piece of art in itself and it serves the wonderful goal of continually getting lost.
The second thing you notice is bit.fall, a waterfall of pixelated text highlighting the current mood of the internet. It’s noisy, very present, very interesting, and it provides an introduction to the other most contemporary pieces that also rely heavily on modern technology, such as the Toby Ziegler exhibition and the installation Supersymmetry by Ryoji Ikeda.
The museum itself also relies heavily on technology; upon entering you are provided with “the O”, a location aware iThingy that guides you and gives some background on the various works.
If you’ve ever met an artist, you know that most of them are way too pretentious for their own good, and that many of them are full of ****; not even this museum can protect you from that. Especially the interviews provided by the O are best skipped and ignored.
The O in MONA refers to the Old at that is also present. Mostly Egyptian stuff, juxtaposed against contemporary works. This actually works out very well. It reminded me of the Centrale Montemartini in Rome, a museum that put Roman statues in an old power plant.
All in all, MONA managed to surprise me. I can heartily recommend it to anyone.