The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) has been making waves since its opening 2011. The three-tiered subterranean gallery is one of most highly acclaimed Hobart attractions and its annual MOFO and Dark Mofo festivals are a huge public draw, not only from the mainland but also from all over the world. In 2012, a writer for the Lonely Planet series of travel guides, cited MONA as a major tourist attraction in a small city, similar to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
This privately funded museum showcases antiquities and contemporary art from the David Walsh collection and there are regular exhibitions on display. Visitors will find everything from ancient Egyptian mummies to some of the world’s most infamous and thought-provoking contemporary art. Displays are frequently updated and the overall architecture and theming of the gallery itself is impressive, exciting and utterly vibrant. The art on display can be unusual, controversial and sometimes even too shocking.
Mona does not have any labels on the walls. As part of the admission fee to Mona, you’re provided with an ‘O’, an iPod touch set up with an interactive gallery guide. The O figures out the artwork you are located nearest to and automatically shows you its label and provides accompanying commentaries.
The 3.5 ha site includes a function centre, Moorilla winery and vineyard, a cellar door and wine bar. There’s also the Source restaurant, a 63-seat cinema, the Mona Library and Gallery and eight stylish accommodation pavilions.
Annual festivals – Mofo and Dark Mofo
Mona holds an summer festival, Mofo, in January that has an eclectic mix of music and art. During Winter, they hold Dark Mofo that delves into centuries-old winter solstice rituals and celebrates the dark through art, music, food, film, light and noise.
Mona is open six days a week, closed Tuesdays and operates from 10am – 5pm in winter, and 10am – 6pm throughout summer. There is an entry fee if you are not from Tasmania, but kids can enter free.
Getting to Mona
To get to Mona, you can drive up from Hobart’s centre(15 minutes), or choose a 30-minute ferry ride from Hobart’s waterfront that goes up the Derwent River right up to the steps of the museum. You could also catch the MONA ROMA Express from the CBD, or even the Airport Express. Metro buses 510, 520, 521, 522 and X20 also pass Mona.
Visiting Mona with kids
Just to set the context, a lot of the content at Mona is controversial – you’ll find lots of artwork related to sex and death. The visitors’ guide marks the exhibits that may not be suitable for children in red color. That said, many of the works are interactive and fun for kids, and depending on their ages and interest in art, kids could really enjoy Mona.
If you decide to visit with kids, there might be a few things that could make your trip more enjoyable.
- Consider taking a ferry ride – it’s only 30 minutes, picturesque, kids can move around and ride the sheep sculptures on the upper deck of the ferry and there are toilets and snack bar on board. If you’re taking a pram however, you’ll have 99 steps from the pier, so you might want to consider alternative options instead like taking the Mona Roma express or drive a car.
- Most kids will enjoy the musical trampoline, the wonderful bit.fall waterfall, a replication of the human digestive system called the poo machine, the polka dot obsession, or the moaning and groaning affectionate couch.
- You could do a picnic in the sprawling lawns. There are tables and stools as well as undercover beanbag areas, sandpit and swing for kids.
- Although not given by the staff to under 18s, the O devices can be a fantastic add on for the kids to fiddle with and explore. You could also keep some toys for the younger babies, or a camera for the old ones to keep the kids engaged and to buy yourself more time to see the displays.
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