I did my research before I convinced Carlos that we ought to quit our jobs and leave our adorable San Francisco apartment behind. And to his credit, Carlos has seen most of the mountain bike videos on the web that showcase riding in Tasmania. I read about the convicts that comprised the state until the mid-19th century and was aware that today, two out of three Tasmanians have convict blood. That didn’t mean much to me though and the jokes about Tasmanians as backwards cousin-lovers on par with the US Appalachians seemed far fletched. Unfortunately for you, I don’t have any stories yet about how I’ve been proven wrong.
What I can share is an experience that dispels those stereotypes. Tasmania is home to a remarkably innovative cultural landmark: MONA (The Museum of Old and New Art). MONA sets a new bar for art museums for several reasons. The first being the means of getting there. We took the Mona ferry because the museum is several miles away from Hobart and we are carless. When I think of ferrys I imagine the one I grew up on in Balboa. That ferry smelled like fish and you inevitably sat in bird poop. The MONA ferry is no such thing. It’s a yacht and patrons sipped champagne as we cruised along the Derwent river. Here are some shots from the bow.
If you have the time, read this article about MONA as a primer for my description to come of Carlos and my trip. If not, this excerpt will give you a snapshot of what’s so special about MONA and in my next post I will tell you about my impressions.
One of the largest private museums in the Southern Hemisphere—and without doubt the most provocative—MONA has suddenly vaulted Tasmania onto the international cultural map. Its $100 million private collection focuses heavily on themes of sex and death, and is presented in a uniquely creative setting, a purpose-built $75 million edifice that challenges our notions of what an art museum should be. There are none of the traditional “white cube” gallery spaces. Instead, laby-rinthine passageways and Escher-like stairways connect three underground levels. There aren’t even labels on the artworks. Visitors are each given an iPod touch called the “O” that permits random exploration; the device tracks your location and provides written commentaries, including poems and personal meditations. No audio commentary is provided; instead, the “O” plays appropriate music.