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MONA – Genuine best gallery in the world contender!


8th February, 2011
Lucy Feagins
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.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email