When colourful Tasmanian identity David Walsh announced his intention to build an art gallery in Hobart, open to the public but entirely privately funded, few would have imagined the impact or quality of the enterprise. MONA – Museum of Old and New Art – is serious, fun and hugely successful. Founded in 2011, it is beautifully located, best reached by ferry 25 minutes north from Hobart. The museum is a remarkable building, the result of a close collaboration between Walsh and his architect, Nonda Katsalides. MONA has become the most significant attraction for visitors to Hobart, lured by the fascinating permanent collection together with excellent restaurants and other facilities.
Walsh is about to present a special exhibition: On the Origin of Art (Nov – Apr). He has invited four guest curators to consider big questions about the origins and purposes of art. He describes them as bio-cultural scientist-philosophers, a description that not everyone will find helpful. Nevertheless between them they have chosen works by artists ranging from Bill Henson to Pierre-August Renoir. In addition among the internationals are Bridget Riley, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons and Francois Boucher. Among other Australians are Brett Whiteley, John Glover, Kathleen Petyarr and Patricia Piccinini. Rather disarmingly, Walsh speculates that the exhibition may be ‘a little lofty; maybe it lacks modesty. Humour us’ he adds, ‘if nothing else, you’ll see some pretty pictures’.