A MONA-umental experience

Mr Iced Vovo and I were lucky enough to spend a full day and night at MONA recently and we had an amazing experience.

The day started with a coffee at the bottom Void bar of the Museum of Old and New Art. Follow the staircase to the lowest level and you won’t miss it. Surrounded by the most sumptuous sandstone walls you can have a coffee, cocktail, glass of wine or cool beverage whilst sitting on an eclectic range of vintage couches, settees and chairs. Make sure you visit the toilets on this level! (I’m not going to say anymore otherwise it will spoil the surprise.)

Next we followed the artworks along the bottom floor before going in to Theatre of the World exhibition currently running in conjunction with TMAG (Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery). This exhibition focuses on showcasing old and new art from both the galleries in the hopes of dispelling the idea that ancient and contemporary works “are inherently different, and that we must burden the past with the weight of history.”

If I have to choose a favourite section I would say the room of masks is the one that I keep going back to. Beautifully displayed with a rotating light display, these masks are captivating, hauntingly beautiful and really thought provoking.

After this we meandered through the underground tunnel to the library and end exhibitions – make sure you do this as that area of the museum gives you a lovely perspective of the surrounding area and houses some really interesting pieces – one being a series of etchings from Hiroshima, post bombing.

We then travelled back through the tunnel and into the main MONA exhibition area and while I have been here over half a dozen times already, there is always something new and amazing to see. My particular favourite, which is also the centrepiece of the Museum, is Sidney Nolan’s Snake. Each time I see something new in the squares – well there are over 1600 of them that spans over 45m in length in MONA’s main hall.   I think it is amazing that you can get so close to such an amazing piece of art history. The first time I saw it, I cried! (Yes, I’m prone to this!) I love the space that it is in and being able to see it from a variety of angles adds to the imposing presence it has as well as giving the viewer a range of perspectives. Viewing it from the next level up (near the fat car) changes the perspective yet again.

After meandering our way upwards through the exhibitions we stopped in at the gift shop for a browse.  Here you will find a wonderfully diverse range of books on art, architecture, interior design etc as well as some quirky, unusual and often intriguing artefacts, jewellery, tee-shirts and the like.

Next stop was the Wine bar located outside the museum opposite the Source restaurant.  It was absolutely pumping with people but we were lucky to secure two bar stools in the central area for our lovely lunch-time feast. We shared a Winemakers platter ($28) and a cheddar cheese platter ($10) that were both brimming with delectable treats including, terrine, rillettes, pate, jamon, cornichons, sourdough, chutney, pickles, mustard, quince, figs, lavosh and more… I also got the wine flight  ($15) – which was a selection of two white and two red’s from MONA’s wine range (delicious!).

It was at this point reception called to let us know that our pavilion was ready. After checking in to the Esmond Dorney Pavilion and unpacking, we hot-footed it back up to the Cellar Door for a complimentary wine tasting (you can do the beer too but we had some other things to do and so I only opted for the wines on this occasion). The accommodation package also gives you access to a brewery tour (it left at 4pm on the Friday). We will have to do this another time as we had prior arrangements and had to scoot back to our pavilion.

The Esmond Dorney is a delightful one bedroom pavilion complete with designer kitchen (not that we used it!),  large open living/ dining area, super large and luxurious bathroom with spa, a lovely river-view deck and is completely wired for sound (Yep even the bathroom – you can lie back and watch TV or listen to music from the bath).

Guests also have access to a 12.5m lap pool, sauna and gym. The pool and sauna got a couple of visits whilst we were on our stay. The tepid temperature of the water and lovely natural outlook makes it a perfect place to unwind.

The next morning we opted for a continental breakfast in our pavilion rather than a full cooked breakfast at the Source restaurant. And while we had to call to remind them that we had asked for breakfast at 9am (a minor slip up in the service) our platter of goodies was promptly organised and delivered. We received a plate of yummy fresh seasonal fruits, cherry tomatoes in fresh herbs and ham sprinkled in olive oil and another plate of mixed breads and brioche with a variety or jams and spreads. There were a variety of teas, coffee and hot chocolate in the room to choose from as well as a juice and rhu-bru.

The fridges (there is a separate wine fridge) are well stocked and room service is but a phone call away if needed. The only other mishap we had was that we had to call and ask about our bottle of sparkling wine that had been arranged for us (luckily I knew about it). I was expecting it to be in a wine bucket upon arrival and so called reception and sorted it out. (Check in is usually 3pm and checkout is at 11am.)

Overall this is a beautiful place to stay and with so many activities right at your doorstep you could really spend a number of days exploring all MONA has to offer.

MONA continues to be one of my favourite places in the world to visit (yes, big call). There is so much to see and do and with new things constantly being added to the Mona schedule you can keep going back time and time again – I know I will!

Admission to MONA is free if you are under 18 or live in Tasmania, otherwise it is $20 per adult or $15 with a Concession. Check on line for accommodation packages, specials, venue hire and all the other bits and bobs.

(My thanks and love go out to my sister who organised our MONA-umental pavilion experience for my birthday. Her philosophy is not to buy gifts that people may not want or don’t need but to give them an experience – we got just that – and a bloody brilliant one it was too! xxxx)

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