The Museum of Old and New Art, or Mona as we like to call it, is a private museum showcasing the collection of David Walsh. Designed by the renowned architect Nonda Katsalidis, opened in Berriedale, just north of Hobart in 2011, Mona has transformed the way Australians look at art and the way they view Tasmania. Currently there are 1700+ objects in the art collection, 12900+ accessioned library items, and a further 3000+ books still to be accessioned.
Mona’s collection started with David’s purchase of items from Africa—beginning with an early 20th-century Nigerian palace door carved by the Yoruba master Areogun. Needing to house his growing art collection, David opened the small Moorilla Museum of Antiquities in 1999; and then closed it in 2006 to make way for building the 6000-square-metres of Mona.
The highly successful Mofo (Museum of Old and New Art: Festival of Music and Art) began in 2009 to give the public a taste of what was to come and will expand to Launceston in the summer of 2018. Regular onsite events include MoMa (the Mona summer market) with live music; concerts on the main stage throughout the year; and many private events and functions in and outside the museum buildings. The winter festival, Dark Mofo, began in 2013, with expansion of off-site exhibitions and performance spaces into the city of Hobart and beyond.
We have the Moorilla Winery and vineyard on site; and MooBrew is also affiliated with Mona. You can see art, experience unique performances, sample fine Tasmanian wine and beer, and enjoy great food—all in one beautiful location.
Mona’s collection represents local, interstate and international artists and authors, and ranges in date from ancient Egyptian funerary objects to modernist masterpieces and contemporary site-specific commissions. We even have a loan agreement in place to exhibit a living person: in 2006, the Belgian artist Wim Delvoye turned a musician named Tim Steiner into a canvas and temporary frame for a large tattoo on his back. In 2008, a German collector bought this still unfinished artwork—to be completed when Tim dies and the tattoo is handed over to its owner. Tim is currently at Mona for 6-month stints over three years, from 2017 to 2019.
2017 sees the opening of Pharos—the new wing of Mona, cantilevered over the River Derwent (its name inspired by the great lighthouse of ancient Alexandria)—housing major new works by the great light artist James Turrell, and artworks by Jean Tinguely, Charles Ross, Richard Wilson, Nam June Paik and Randy Polumbo.
Mona will continue to evolve. David’s next plan is to build a hotel. This will be five-star, with 172 rooms (some of them ‘special experience’), looking towards Kunanyi (Mt Wellington) or up the river towards Claremont and Otago Bay. There will be a theatre, spa centre, outdoor concert stage, and a greatly enlarged library, as well as conference and auditorium facilities and, of course, new art.