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I’m still catching up with some of the Hobart highlights from our Christmas-New Year break.

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery recently underwent an extensive redevelopment including the opening up the old Bond Store as a gallery.  This renovated space provides an atmospheric palette for a myriad of stories and objects relating to Tasmania’s natural and social history.

The stories of the first peoples of lutruwita (now known as Tasmania) are told in both the ningina tunapri gallery and the Parrawa, Parrawa! exhibit which includes stories of the 19th century invasion in the form of short dramatised films projected through the darkness onto the walls of the store.

The curators make good use of audio-visual material throughout the gallery including old lantern slides. The one included here points to one of the introduced European agricultural methods, honey bees.

TMAG - Old Bond Store

TMAG - Bond Store storemen graffitiTMAG - bee hive slide

One of the quirky objects is this re-created model of a wombat standing on its hind legs in a bear-like stance. The first taxidermist to work on a wombat lived in England and was unfamiliar with their four-legged stance, thus he stuffed it in more ways than one.

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Wombat taxidermy

The Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart is worth a revisit. Ten months after our first experience, we took the ferry up the Derwent to see the current Red Queen exhibition. What with the holiday season, and the growing popularity of MONA, the self-guide iPods were in high demand and required sharing between two. I chose to go it alone and found myself enjoying the art works without any signage (there is none on the walls) or audio-visual assistance.

MONA lift

The ride down to the start of the galleries, through the sheer sandstone walls, hasn’t lost any of its impact.

Click on The Red Queen link above for a sense of the eclectic offerings in this exhibition.

My favourite piece was Depraved Pursuit of a Possum by UK artist Tessa Farmer, a work of fascinating detail and shadows.

MONA insects 2

MONA insects 1

MONA insects 3MONA insects 4

Today we headed into Hobart from our digs in Bothwell for The Taste Festival, a week long celebration of the food and beverages of Tasmania.

We had the best time. Here’s a taste of Taste. It is not an accident which photographs are enlarged.

Taste Tasmania 2Taste Tasmania 5Taste Tasmania 6Taste Tasmania 3Taste Tasmania 7Taste Tasmania 4

Taste Tasmania 1

As art galleries go, MONA is different.  She’s a little underground. She’s dark and a little bit naughty. She’ll expose herself and her inner workings to you like no other of her kind has done before. She is an experience that keeps on giving.

You can record your visit with her using the O, an iPod filled with information and opinions and a system that tracks your movement about her.  Afterwards, you can retrieve your tour of her – where you went, all the parts you loved and, tantalisingly, all the bits you missed.

The total approach to The Museum of Old and New Art makes you dig deep.  Metaphorically and literally.  You go down into the earth and find yourself surrounded by towering walls of hewn sandstone playing host to a bar.  Julius Popp’s amazing Bit.Fall takes your breath away with its magically lit pulsing water words.  No wall plaques. No categories of objects forced together. Quirky, fun, shocking – all of the above.

MONA is big and brash. She’s everything you’ve never experienced in an art gallery before.  She is the amazing creation of David Walsh and his architect Nonda Katsalidis and many gifted curators.  Get thee to Hobart and plan to spend some time with her.