MONA – Breathtaking!

Our cruiser approaches The Museum of Old & New Art (MONA)  – WOW!

23 February 2014

Our cruise to MONA (Museum of Old & New Art) leaves at 9.30am, so we have time to walk to the wharf and on the way to eat a leisurely breakfast at Zum in Salamanca Place (where else!).   Their Breakfast Trifle (toasted muesli, berries and yogurt) is delicious and a great start to what is promising to be a perfect day weatherwise, not a cloud to be seen and the temperature is to reach 26 degrees – couldn’t ask for more for our visit to this unusual art museum.

The Museum of Old and New Art is an art museum located within the Moorilla winery on the Berriedale peninsula in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. It is the largest privately funded museum in Australia.  The cruiser itself is luxurious with unusual seating arrangements (for a cruiser), including models of 4 sheep at the back deck to sit on, and an ageing parrot in a cage who spent its time either preening its feathers or sleeping!

We cruised for about 20 minutes and then had MONA in our sights. What can I say!!  The building itself is breathtaking, especially when approaching it from the bay.  Once you alight from the cruiser there are 99 steps to climb (or you can take the lift) to reach the impressive outdoor forecourt where there is currently a trampoline for kids to jump on, a tennis court, a rusted iron structure (that looked like a huge cement mixer!) and the entrance to the museum is a large fun mirror that distorts the images of patrons as they enter the building – this is all a taste of what is inside.

CNN Travel, in an article (February 2012) about the museum describes it as :

“Chiseled into an escarpment on the banks of the Derwent River in the northern suburbs of Hobart is a subterranean fortress housing one of the most confronting and controversial collections of art in the world.

The crowning achievement of Tasmanian David Walsh, a mathematician and art collector who made millions perfecting algorithms that led him to beat casinos and bookies at their own game, MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) has made a name for itself by breaking every rule in the book since opening its doors in January of last year.”

A “selfie” – reflections in the fun mirror at the entrance to the Gallery

We had heard various stories about the Museum (only one that was negative) but our experience was positive from start to finish.  As you descend to the basement (then work your way back up to the entrance) you are in a huge shaft surrounded by towering sandstone walls, as you ascend the levels are supported by steel and stone – and the art is displayed among all of this “massiveness”.  Certainly some of the art is confronting, there are paintings, sculptures, textile art, videos, photography, there is a surprise around every corner.  We were issued with iPods when we arrived, and these were great to explain the different exhibits, some small, some huge!

Starting the MONA tour at the basement level flanked with massive sandstone walls

Finally we made the top level again, after nearly four hours, in time to have some lunch at the cafe before climbing down the 99 steps to the wharf to catch the cruiser back – heads spinning with what we had seen, heard and experienced in what must now be recognised as one of the top art museums of the world.

The Mona Cruiser arriving to take us back to Hobart

After a short catnap back at our accommodation (we were exhausted!) we drove down Sandy Bay Road (the street where we are saying) to the village and waterfront of Sandy Bay.  It has been such a perfect sunny day, the yachts are skimming across the shimmering water, people were sitting in the park enjoying the weather, and the ducks were having fun.  The Wrest Point Casino is situated on Sandy Bay – I took some photos but decided against going in to the gaming rooms!

Yachts moored at Sandy Bay on a beautiful sunny day

The weather was so perfect we decided to again drive to the top of Mt Wellington – and what a contrast to our trip there when we first arrived in Hobart three weeks ago!  On that occasion the mist covered the summit of the mountain, the wind was howling around us, and there were only two other people that we saw.  Today there were people everywhere, and we discovered the lookouts (formerly covered in mist) where we could walk to two locations for the most spectacular views down to Hobart nestled below us, to the Derwent River and beyond – you could see for kilometres to the mountains in the distance, it was really magical to see the beautiful city of Hobart and its surrounds on such a picture perfect day.

The drive up the mountain is scary, the road is very narrow as you rise toward the summit – but today it was well worth the trip (and the nerves!).  Driving down is not quite as bad, and always seems to be a quicker trip than ascending.

Hobart nestled under Mt Wellington

For our last dinner we chose to go to Mandini’s (on Salamanca Square), an Italian restaurant where we had yet another delicious meal – and I thought about my empty refrigerator when I get home tomorrow, having to face the supermarket to stock up, and having to cook my own meals again!  We have been thoroughly spoiled during our stay – however all good things come to an end, and by tomorrow night we will be home again, with some fabulous memories of our wonderful holiday in beautiful Tasmania.

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