Things to do in Hobart Tasmania: MONA Museum

MONA museum, the Museum of Old and New Art, has been billed as the place that revitalized Hobart and put it high up on the must see destination list of Tasmania in Australia.

It is the largest privately funded museum in Australia and I’ve been keen for years to see what all the fuss is about.

The founder David Walsh has described the museum as a “subversive adult Disneyland.”

I’m not one for art galleries or museums so wasn’t sure that it would wow me. I was more interested in the winery and brewery attached and the photos of people lazing around on bean bags with beautiful river views that I always see of MONA.

Our trip to MONA started on the ferry, which is an experience in itself. You can reach MONA by road, but we felt a trip up the Derwent river would make the experience all that more special.

The weather wasn’t helping out so much, but the sheep seats did. Kalyra and Savannah were instantly put into the right joyful mood to enter an art gallery with.

Savannah & Kalyra on the ferry
Savannah & Kalyra on the ferry

We pulled up to the dock and got an inkling of the architectural grandeur of the building carved into the cliff face. Inside is a spiral staircase that leads down to three larger levels of display spaces built into the side of the cliffs.

It made the experience inside the gallery that more special, walking down into the cavernous depths to be confronted by graphic images, ones that caused you to dig a little dipper into your though recesses, and those that were a little more playful.

MONA museum
View from the outside

The MONA museum is not just about standing there and staring at a painting on the wall, hoping to get a chance to read what it’s about or figure it out yourself. You’re a part of the experience as you move through.

MONA museum - Hobart, Tasmania

You’re given an O – which is an iPod device. It helps you discover what each of the art works is with some thoughts from the founder David Walsh and sometimes the artists voices themselves.

There were exhibitions such as the pulse, which gives you the chance to have a light bulb measure your pulse.

MONA Museum - Hobart, Tasmania
Kalyra testing her Pulse

Or a trampoline you can jump on to create music with the bells hanging below.

MONA Muesum - Hobart, Tasmania
The trampoline was a hit with Savannah

These were the first exhibits we saw and the girls were hooked. So was I.

It’s by far the best, most interesting and fun art gallery I’ve even been to.

It was made even more special that the girls enjoyed did as well. The only complaint that was heard was when we had finished. Kalyra whined that she wanted to go back in and see more.

Even though the art and the concepts were above her head, I loved the exposure the trip to MONA gave her to art and the idea that the world can be interpreted in many different ways, and from that perspective you can create pieces of work that people from around the world flock to in their thousands to see.

My favourite exhibits were the weather instrument – a machine that was powered by the wind, which moved a pencil that created a drawing – an art work by the wind. I LOVED it!

MONA museum - Hobart, Tasmania
weather chart

I also loved the concept of the fat car – an obese Porsche showing the effects of consumerism.

The most fun one was the white cubed room. Inside were 30 TV screens, with Madonna’s biggest fans singing the entire Immaculate Conception album in acapaella. It was fun to watch and I almost jumped up and belted out the words to Borderline with them.

The only one I did not like was the human excrement machine. I think we arrived when it was pooping time and the smell drove me out before I could take a good look.

MONA sure is designed to open your mind – it’s a good place to learn about “It’s not better or worse, just different.”

MONA museum - Hobart, Tasmania

There is so much to take in at Mona, you need at least half a day. We enjoyed lunch in the cafe with views out to the river, before walking to the winery area out the back.

There was a big gospel choir event on. While that is not my thing, it was great to sit on the grass while the girls played and danced to some upbeat music.

I can only imagine how great a venue it would be when the MOFO festival is on in January.

MONA, museum
The atmosphere outside

You can do cellar tours of Morilla Winery, but we opted for a Moo Brew and class of wine from the Bogan Bar. Which was very fitting for me, as I did wear my UGG boots to MONA. True bogan form, at 15 degrees and high winds, I was freezing. And I’m more about comfort than fashion.

MONA museum
Moo Brew

MONA gets the big thumbs up from us apathetic art appreciates. Put it on your Australia list for sure.

BUT, when you do come down here to visit Mona, make sure you tack on a couple of extra weeks to see why else Tasmania is SOOOOO great.

The Details

Cost: $20 per adult. Under 18 free.

Getting There: The MR-1 Fast Ferry takes 30 minutes from Hobart and costs from $20. For other options click here.

Opening Hours: Open Wednesday-Monday (closed Tuesdays). For holiday periods click here.

Website: For full details on your visit to MONA visit the MONA website.

You can also read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

Disclaimer: We visited as guests of MONA

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