MONA: Museum of Old and New Art (Hobart)

MONA is a great adventure with kids – the architecture alone is awe inspiring and much of the art is irreverent, interactive and fun.

When: Wednesdays – Mondays 10am – 6pm, click here for more information.

Where:  655 Main Road Berriedale, Hobart TASMANIA

Cost:  Adults $25, children and Tasmanians FREE

Given Hobart is blessed with less summer more winter kind of weather, a venue like MONA is a fantastic day out for a family.

True there is an element of artwork designed to shock or create controversy – but don’t let this shy you away from sharing MONA with the kids.  The staff have obviously been briefed and trained to ensure that children are shielded from any X-rated content or material parents might find offensive as I was approached on numerous occasions leading up to rooms that contained sensitive materials.  I should also mention that the map you’re provided with (when you purchase your tickets) also advises you of areas that are not suitable for audiences under 15 years.

Out of curiosity I glanced in the direction of the offensive cabinets and can’t report that I saw anything obviously shocking – but perhaps if I had time to study the work in detail and read the accompanying commentary on my O guide I would have understood what the fuss was about – as it was I employed the old “oh what’s that over there” distraction method as we moved through that particular section of the room just to be sure.  And I should point out we could have easily bypassed that gallery room all together, but I have a touch of FOMO (if you hadn’t already noticed).

MONA is an expansive museum of art – there are multiple spaces to explore.  If you are the kind of gallery visitor that whizzes through then maybe you could see everything in half a day.  But given there are outside installations to explore I would recommend pacing yourself.  We took our own lunch – but we did stop in the cafe for juice and coffee.

As part of your admission fee, you are provided with the “O” – quite simply this is an iPod touch set up with an interactive gallery guide.  Throughout MONA you will not find any labels on the walls – the O is set up so that it knows which artwork you are located nearest to and it automatically shows you the label.  If you are inclined you can also listen to accompanying commentaries.  The O devices were a fantastic add-on for the kids – my two spent quite a bit of time fiddling with them (let’s face it some of the art was ‘boring’ to them – but the O bought me a little time to ponder and take in a little more on a number of occasions).

The MONA collection rotates – so what we saw isn’t necessarily an indication of exactly what you might see.  Quite a bit of it I didn’t get, some I didn’t like, some made me smile and some I loved.. it was the same for the kids – and we didn’t always agree.  (And not being a professional photographer my camera and I struggled to do anything much justice.)

Tasmania’s capital Hobart is a quiet city compared to Melbourne (maybe you could liken it to Geelong).  We went to lots of places where we were some of the only visitors – and it was still school holidays for the locals and we were visiting family-friendly places.

MONA, on the other hand, was like its own micro-city.  The museum is huge – the amount of work to see would rival the NGV and the space and structure of the galleries was massive.  The place was pumping!  We visited on a Thursday from about 11am to 3.30pm and we found Hobart’s heartbeat – there were people streaming in and out of galleries, there was live music, a crowd was lining the bar in the basement and the cafe upstairs had a queue going out the door.  Quite literally we hadn’t seen this many people since we disembarked the Spirit of Tasmania.  And behind the Museum is a fancy restaurant, a fab brewery and an utterly cool winery (and surrounding vineyard) – if your brain can take any more stimulation in one outing.

I can’t wait to visit again!