MONA – Genuine best gallery in the world contender!

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Tuesday 8th February 2011

David Walsh’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Tasmania, designed by famed Melbourne architects Fender Katsalidis, somehow seems to channel a fictional James Bond-style location!   The stylish MONA Ferry takes gallery visitors across the Derwent River – a 40 minute boat ride, and the best way to view the building in all its glory!  All photos and captions – Jacque Koutoumas.

Top image – The lawns between the gallery and Moorilla winery and Moo Brewery. You can relax on super comfy oversized Mojo bean bags overlooking the river and mountains whilst sipping a wine. Or choose to have some tapas as a break before going back for more at the gallery.   Bottom image – gallery entrance.  All photos and captions – Jacque Koutoumas.

Top Image – uniquely displayed artworks on Level 3.  Bottom image – When My Heart Stops Beating by Patrick Hall (Manipulated vinyl records, electric motors, LED and incandescent lights, MP3 players, acrylic sheet, glass, aluminium, two parts. All photos and captions – Jacque Koutoumas.

OK so if ONE MORE PERSON asks me if I’ve been to MONA yet, I may strangle them. :) Of course I am DYING to go and check out David Walsh’s already infamous ‘Museum of Old and New Art’ in Tasmania, (hopefully next month!), but it seems most neglectful not to blog it in some capacity whilst it’s still super fresh!  LUCKILY we have this first-hand account from Melbourne art fiend Jacque Koutoumas!  Jacque works with my Mum in advertising-land, and attended the MONA openng 2 weeks ago.  She is very excited to share her little review here on TDF!

Frankly I am AMAZED at Jacque’s innate blogging skills…  I may have to call in her services a little more often!

Over to Jacque –

I don’t even know where to begin except to say I am now David Walsh’s biggest fan!  I was lucky enough to visit the brand new MONA gallery last weekend and the special trip to Tassie was well and truly worth it. After taking the glamorous MONA ferry ($15 return – cheap!), the gallery itself sits elegantly in the side of the mountain.

Three levels of underground magnificence awaited us. You are given an iPod and schmick headphones upon arrival (with the signature xand + embossed – it’s the little touches that impress). Special software and GPS has the iPod telling you about the works of art in your immediate surroundings. You can  then email your itinerary to yourself, and view it again at home through The O portal (on the MONA website) whenever you like.

Perfectly curated, you never feel overwhelmed, and five hours passed by in what felt like seconds.  Spread over three floors the space lends itself not only to traditional hanging pieces, but allows the installation art to truly shine. The gallery staff were friendly and knowledgeable and the no nonsense approach of DW comes through in many aspects of the gallery, making any viewer (no matter their art experience) feel at ease. Aside from the gallery, the grounds themselves are so inviting, with giant beanbags begging to be lounged upon on the expansive lawn whilst enjoying a vino in the sunshine!

With two more rumoured DW galleries on the horizon, Tasmania is on the cusp of stealing the avant garde art capital of Australia title!

– Jacque

Huge thanks to Jacque for this fabulous round-up… I am now seriously itching to get across the Tasman!

Top image – the space in front of the gallery is decorated like a tennis court. Notice the uber cool logo and branding carried through in the grass of the concrete cut-out on the left!  Bottom image – your first view of the basement level, with the natural sandstone wall and comfy  chairs to relax and have a drink.

Top image – Snake by Sidney Nolan (Mixed media on paper, 1620 sheets) finally has a  permanent home, and boy does it do it justice!  Bottom image – Untitled (White Library) by Wilfredo Prieto (White books, shelves, tables & chairs)

Left image – A rare step into the daylight from the basement, it currently houses Sternenfall/Shevirath Ha Kelim by Anselm Kiefer (Bookcase comprising two iron elements with lead books 190-200 volumes and glass.)  Right image – The passageway that leads you to the exhibit Hiroshima in Tasmania – The Archive of the Future Masao Okabe and Chihiro Minato (Mixed media installation including works on paper.) Only 14 people can view it at a time.

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Tuesday 8th February 2011


  • gracia 6 years ago

    Have been asked a thousand and one times, it seems, if I have been too. Looking forward to popping across soon. Thanks for photographic tour.

  • Sarah B 6 years ago

    It is a fantastic place, but I have to say that even as an artist, I was bowled over by the building more so that the art. There are some stunning pieces and quite a few that don’t appeal to my aesthetic. One word of advice, even if there is a line-up for the Mummy Pausiris room, make sure you wait and experience it – it’s really incredible. Also incredible is the fantastic rooftop garden and steel ‘fence’ construction that whistles in the wind (some piccies on my blog recently).
    I actually felt really overwhelmed when I was there for the first time, but a lot of that was excitement :)

  • clairsy 6 years ago

    Great to get a glimpse having heard so much about it, can’t wait to get down there!

  • Michelle Walker 6 years ago

    Are we Tasmanians super cool or what!!!

  • Adam Paikos 6 years ago

    How funny. One of the architects I work with visited on the weekend and was very impressed by it all. Nice work!

  • Sean Fennessy 6 years ago

    It really is an astonishing place. All you ‘mainlanders’ should come and visit ASAP.

    I was lucky enough to be commisionned to photograph the opening weekend – if interested, you can see the pics here:


  • Sophie 6 years ago

    I am so glad you have blogged MONA. I am of Tasmanian origin, lived in Europe and am now in Melbourne and totally agree that MONA is the best gallery in the world (even better that the Tate Modern – yep you heard it here first). I was also lucky enough to pop down for the opening weekend and was blown away. It was an amazing Willy Wonka/James Bond experience shared with a variety of people of different age and background, all getting into it. Yes David Walsh is awesome, it’s all free and all ours. No tax dollars went near it so no complaining from the public. Apparently he is currently showing around 20% of his collection, so more to come…

  • Alison 6 years ago

    Thanks for this article – I have just signed up on their email list and am hoping for a trip to Tassie before the middle of the year.

  • msd 6 years ago

    I’m itching to see this museum and I’ve never been to Tasmania before so it’s given me that extra kick to go. I think it’s fantastic that Walsh chose to build it in his home town rather than somewhere more expected like Sydney or Melbourne. Australia needs more philanthropy like this!

  • Mary 6 years ago

    Sure is better than Tate Modern. Thank you David Walsh from all Tasmanians. it’s mind blowing. It’s fantabulous. it’s scary. It’s confronting. It’s beautiful. It’s ours.

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