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Wildly eccentric Tasmanian mogul David Walsh made his multi-millions in syndicated gambling enterprises world-wide.  During his many “business trips” he began to collect antiquities, modern and contemporary art.  As his collection grew, he decided to build “the world’s most far-out (private) museum; a subversive adult Disneyland in which many of the artworks could be deemed X-rated”.

 

Walsh commissioned Nonda Katsalidis, of Fender Katsalidis Architects, an Australian architectural firm based in Melbourne, to build the art museum within his 9-acre property on the Berriedale Peninsula.  The single storey, 65,000-square-foot building, built into the side of the Berriedale cliffs, became the largest private museum in Australia.  A spiral staircase leads visitors down to three separate levels of enormous gallery spaces.  It is intentionally windowless to create an “ominous atmosphere”.  Walsh wanted a building that “could sneak up on visitors rather than broadcast its presence and create a sense of danger that would enliven the experience of viewing art”.  The resulting award-winning design is deliberately a disorienting layout with vaulting spaces criss-crossed by Escher-like stairs.

 

The multi-media Museum of installations, paintings, lightshows, mummies, and African art, houses 400 of Walsh’s artworks and antiquities, about 1/10th of his eclectic collection.  The pieces range from Sir Sidney Nolan’s stunning 150-foot-long ‘Snake”, to the “Beautiful Misshapen Purity Clashing Excitedly Outwards” spin painting by British “enfant terrible”, Damien Hirst, and Chris Ofili’s infamous “The Holy Virgin Mary”.  These “eccentricities” are juxtaposed with ancient artefacts, traditional art, and contemporary canvases.  These displays are designed to “shock, offend, challenge, inform, entertain, and provoke”, says Walsh.

 

There are no descriptive labels on the walls.  A complimentary “O” device, similar to a modified iPod Touch, that uses a GPS technology acts as a guide.  It provides a curatorial description of each object throughout the venue, has audio interviews with many of the living artists and/or their bios, Walsh’s comments about the work and appropriate music to match the particular item in question.

 

Adjacent to the amazing Museum are Walsh’s Moorilla vineyard and winery, Cellar Door, Wine Bar and Barrel Room, Void Bar, The Source restaurant, his Moo Brew microbrewery, and his six exquisite boutique ‘accommodation pavilions’ all individually designed by Nonda Katsalidis.  The profits from these establishments as well as additional funds from Walsh’s gambling fortune are used to cover the acquisition and operating costs of the Museum. 

 

Walsh’s Museum is not only unique; it is simply an unforgettable experience to visit.

 

Address: 655 Main Road, Berriedale Tasmania 7011, Hobart, Australia

Tel: 61 3 6277 9900              www.mona.net.au

Hours: Sunday – Monday: 10:00AM – 6:00PM    Closed Tuesdays

Admission: Adults: $20.

 

 

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