It’s a destination better known for its gourmet getaways and wow-inducing wilderness but Tasmania is fast building a reputation for the happening art scene in Hobart.
Culture vultures have been flocking to the Tasmanian capital in Australia since the MONA Museum of Old and New Art (pictured above and below) threw open its industrial-sized doors at the start of 2011. A bold mix of red earth, glass and corrugated steel, MONA looms large over the Derwent River – arrive by ferry from the Brooke Street terminal in town to see this striking structure rise up over the water like a Bond villain’s lair.
Once inside, allow yourself a few hours to take in the four floors of fine art and ancient curiosities that make up permanent exhibition Monanism. From fibreglass lips and video installations to sarcophagi and kitten pelts, the museum offers visitors a feast of beautiful and controversial works. Current new-media show, Experimenta Utopia Now, runs until 3 October, 2011, so be quick to secure a peek. Another thing to love is that there aren’t any lengthy wall captions for these collections. Instead, a pre-loaded iPod Touch will talk you through each piece.
If one day of MONA isn’t enough, bunker down at art-blessed boutique hotel MONA Pavilions next door. The contemporary villas are named after influential Australian artists and architects, promising a stylish escape in a serene riverside setting.
Can’t bag a bed at MONA? Graceful guesthouse The Islington Hotel in Hobart isn’t far away (and it has a cherry-picked private art collection to rival many galleries). After checking in, join the queue at Garagistes (103 Murray Street; +61 (0)3 6231 0558, pictured left), one of the city’s hottest eateries. Head chef and co-owner Luke Burgess offers a tasty menu of locally sourced, seasonal dishes designed to share. There’s a no-reservations policy for dinner (from 5pm, Wednesday to Saturday), so arrive early to snare a spot. Bookings are allowed – and essential – for Sunday lunch.
For more tips on eating, drinking and playing in the Tasmanian capital, delve into our Hobart destination guide.
Written by Rowena Fitzgerald. MONA photos by MONA/Leigh Carmichael.