Not only does David Walsh’s Museum of Old + New Art contain a stunning collection of beautiful, clever, witty and sometimes shocking artworks, it is also an architectural masterpiece in its own right.
Its imposing façade is full of strong steel and rugged sandstone contrasts neatly with plantings of hardy native plants.
Let’s have a look…
I imagine that designing Mona would have been an architect’s dream project. To have a client whose imagination and creativity is as limitless as the artworks the Gallery would eventually contain, would be equal parts exciting and challenging.
I have no doubt that David Walsh is a man who knows what he wants and has the budget to get it. Keeping him focused and on track, balancing his flood of ideas and energy may have been the toughest aspect of the project.
Having said that, I have never met Mr Walsh so I really have no idea what he was thinking when he set out on his Museum project. From his website and printed material, and the art collection itself, you can tell he has an irreverent sense of humour. You can also safely assume from the way that he earned his money in the first place (gambling) and his subsequent head-to-head battles with the Australian Taxation Office, that he is a man with an independent spirit and likes to forge his own path.
But away from the man and back to the building…
The substantial nature of the building is not to be trifled with. It seems to heave up out of the sheer sandstone cliffs, looming over the grey Derwent River.
Inside, the twisting, turning hallways and transitions from dark to light speak of a desire for discovery, of seeking out and a type of comfort, or willingness to be kept in the dark.
The walls constantly morph from soaring sandstone to slick, matt black panels.
Artwork is spotlighted, up-lighted or backlighted.
The multi-layered, multilevel design brings an element of discomfort and disorientation for linear people like myself, eliminating any possibility of moving systematically through the building.
Cavernous tunnels lead you on a merry dance to destinations unknown.
Ceilings are sliced, diced, checked and mirrored in the pools below.
And when you come up for air, outside the rust-red steel work is edged with lush lawns and mirrored walls reflect Australian native trees. Somehow the contrast of the man-made and natural brings out the best in all features.
Mona truly is an artwork in itself and is an excellent example of what can be achieved when budget is not a consideration.
The Museum is definitely worth a visit for its architectural beauty on the outside as well as way down deep underground.
What is your favourite museum?
What: The Museum is described as David Walshe’s “…one man’s ‘megaphone’ … and what he wants to say almost invariably revolves around the place of art and creativity within the definition of humanity. We know that sounds lofty, self-important. But we must be honest with you: our goal is no more, nor less, than to ask what art is, and what makes us look and look at it with ceaseless curiosity. We don’t have the answer yet. Maybe when we do, that will be the end of Mona”.
Where: 655 Main Rd, Berriedale – approximately 11km North of Hobart.
When: Mona is open from 10am-6pm, every day except Tuesday. Check opening hours before you visit as it does vary by season.
Why: To satisfy your curiosity or develop a whole new curiosity.
How: Every known transport option is available! Just get there.
Who: This Gallery may not be suitable for people who are easily offended and some of the artworks are a little R-rated. Carefully pick and choose what you show the kiddies.
Related Posts: When too much art is never enough, check out a visit to the Archibald Prize at the NSW Art Gallery.
Related Blogs: Get it straight from the horse’s or gallery-owner’s mouth. Read what David has to say about anything art-related or anything he damn well pleases.
Read About It: Still wanting more Walsh-wisdom? Yes, he is an author too. Grab your copy of Monaism by David Walsh from the Mona store or for 12 187 different books about Modern Art, go straight to Book Depository.
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