For the second time in two days I find myself compelled to post a blog entry (yesterday’s one is on the Software Education Blog)

I’m in Hobart, Tasmania for just one day, delivering a training course. I arrived here from Melbourne at 12:30, and was wondering what to do for the afternoon. I’d heard that Tasmania is beautiful (and the little I’ve seen confirms that), but i didn’t know much about the cultural aspects. Someone on the plane mentioned a new art museum MONA, and said it’s a must see. So after I checked into the hotel (The Old Woolstore – very comfortable room and nice people) I asked about getting to this intriguing sounding place.

Turns out it’s a little way out of town, but they have a ferry that shuttles people up and down all day long. It’s a very comfortable ferry too; it leaves from the Brooke St Pier every 1 1/2 hours or so, for a pleasant 45 minute journey. The ferry crew are friendly and helpful, there’s a bar/cafe on board and they make a decent cup of coffee. The return ferry trip is a very reasonable $15 – great value and you a guided tour as the captain points out landmarks and high points along the way.

MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) is a delight – it started off as a heritage building that housed some old artworks, and a new custom built museum space has been cut into the side of a cliff.  All the interior walls are natural rock.  From the outside it’s a big metal building, deliberately left rust colored as the salt air corrodes the steel walls.

You enter at the ground level, entrance is free. There are no little plaques on the artworks, and no descriptions around the pieces, instead you have to use an iPod that they give you as you come into the museum. The iPod has an App that uses location aware technology to find where you are and displays a list of the artworks around you. The app shows you a picture of the artwork, and if you want more details you can tap an icon for (quoting from the brochure here)

  • “Summary – Artwork title and artist name
  • Ideas – Bite-sized trash polemics. Quotes from artists and things.
  • Artwank – Context and critique. For those with a penchant for informed commentary.
  • Gonzo – Sex chat/heart-warming anecdotes. Welcome to Walshland.
  • Audio – interviews with artists; songs about the art written by DC Root especially for MONA.”

This use of location aware portable technology is a great example of the potential what can be achieved with some imagination and creative design. The device records your meanderings around the museum and will email you a link with your personal journey, and links to more details about e artworks you were interested in. You can also vote on your opinion of each piece: a + if you like it and a X if you don’t. Not sure what they do with the voting results, perhaps it will influence future exhibitions.

The museum is truly a rabbit warren sunk three levels deep into the cliffside. The space itself is an artwork cut out of the natural stone the walls with galleries that effectively highlight the pieces on display.

Now, some of the work is honestly not to my taste, but that’s OK – the eclectic collection has some absolute gems, a whole lot of interesting stuff, some pieces that really made me think, and some stuff that I honestly struggle to call art.

So if you’re going to be in Hobart at some stage, I really recommend visiting the – MONA – it’s a really interesting day out.