Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Museum of Old and New Art

MONA. The Museum of Old and New Art. Wow. I have to say, even on hearing about this though my mum (already been six times since opening), and friends there, and through friends in Amsterdam emailing me scanned articles featuring MONA in prominent art journals (thank you, Annette), I imaged this would be pretty cool, but nothing really prepared me for actual experience. The museum is incredible. Mostly so, I believe, as it is the gift of one man, Mr David Walsh, (pictured above*) to the public. That's right, Tasmania's have free entrance to this beautiful and inspiring place. If you live in Tasmania and don't go once a month, I think there must be something wrong with you. It's truly world-class in every way. From the art, to the architecture housing these wonderfully eclectic pieces, to the beautiful setting of MONA on the banks of the river Derwent, it's a pleasure, every minute, just being there.
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I went with Mum, Dad, and my fiancée, Mr E. The ferry trip up was lovely. I hadn't gone up the Derwent river since a school trip to New Norfolk in high school and it bought back lots of memories. Note, best to book ahead if you want to take the ferry, especially in peak tourist times. We caught the earliest ferry in order to make the most of our day at the museum.The fist piece of art I saw was this: Cement truck 2007 by Wim Delvoye. Born 1965, Wervik, Belgium; Delvoye lives and works in Ghent, Belgium. And I loved it immediately. Absolutely beautiful.
I took a lot of photos, none of which really do it any justice.
MONA have an exhibition of Wim Delvoye opening on December 10. Super bummed I'll miss it.Then after a quick coffee and macaroon (which was sublime) we four headed into the museum where it promptly blew my socks off. The first thing that grabs you is the scale of the space, which is vast, yet cozy at the same time. The sandstone walls have been carved into like butter creating a vast chasm, and the majority of spaces are very dark, with spotlight on the art only, which makes it very intimate.
There are spaces specifically designed for different permanent installations, like bit.fall 2006–7 by Julius Popp.Then, sprinkled amongst the modern art, or almost hidden in little peep-holes in the gallery space walls is the old art. I loved this Head of a mummified cat Egypt, Late Period to Ptolemaic, c. 664–30 BCE, Unknown maker. The following is just a tiny cross-section of whats on offer, which is nothing less than a gourmet art-feast for the eyes. And on it, we gorged ourselves. There's another twist to this museum, too. There are no placards next to the art giving you the standard obligatory info. Instead you're handed an ipod at the door, which has The O system on it. It's free, simple and intuitive to use. It tells you all the usual info you'd expect in the Summary, plus there's Ideas, Gonzo (a word from David), Art Wank (yes, it's actually called that, which I love; critic's review on the piece), and Media (audio which has info, and interviews with the artists). It's the future of museum experiences. Not more crowds of people all jostling to read a tiny placard. Everyone is easy and relaxed as they experience each piece when they like, and from any place near the art piece.
The application continually updates based on your location within the museum, bringing all those items in your immediate vicinity to top of the viewing list. The feature I thought was a clever touch was the voting options, viewers can either 'love' or 'hate' a piece of artwork. You get a nice statistic (and wow, how I love a good stat!), on the piece you've voted on. Good fun. And the best part is that it doesn't end when you leave the museum. If you save your tour at the end, (and I highly recommend you do), by simply plugging in your email address, you're sent a personal link that enables you to go back online and not only see your tracked tour (mine above), but also which artworks you saw, and even those you didn't, plus all the information mentioned above is there for you to enjoy again, or share through your social network. MONA says it's "the first system in the world designed to replace traditional artwork wall labels." And they did a pretty bang on job with it. High-fives all around.
Another piece I was drawn to for it's fine ceramic work: Formations of Silence: Freudian Flowers 2009 by Juz Kitson.And always a fan of Howard Arkley. Above: Large House with Fence 1998.One last point on the art, there's a room with a mummy that only takes two people at a time. Go. Line up. It's worth it.
Loving the Kiss Falcon. Just kidding, but this falcon does rock.
Take the guided tour. Part of the museum was closed off while they were installing a new exhibition, but the tour takes you to the library and other nice rooms and more art! Like Sternenfall / Shevirath ha Kelim 2007 by Anselm Kiefer, above and below.
My final note is just one big 'thank you' to Mr Walsh for this wonderful, wonderful gift. I've read that Mr Walsh built this museum as he'd built a more modest one previously and no one had come. Well, I'd been, and I remember that museum vividly with it's Roman mosaic in the floor, extensive coin collection and tribal pieces. Apparently there's a huge warehouse where the man has stashed away his life's collections, and that these pieces will be featured at MONA on a rotating basis. So there'll always be something new to see. Lucky old Tassie! I'm so envious you guys all have this on your doorstep, hope you're all making the most of it.

MONA: 655 Main Road Berridale, Hobart, Tasmania 7011.
Open: Wednesday – Monday 10am - 6pm.
Follow MONA on Facebook here.
How to get there: visit MONA's transport link here for ferry info and to buy tickets.

*Sorry to not credit the photographer, but we bought the book then left it in Tassie by accident, so I can't tell you who took this shot. If anyone knows, please contact me.

1 comment:

Creeping Beauty said...

This place looks amazing. To be filed under 'art pilgrimage' along with http://www.chinati.org/ in Marfa Texas and http://www.diabeacon.org