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Museum of Old and New Art Opens

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(1 February 2011, Hobart, Tasmania) Australia’s largest private museum, the spectacular $75 million Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), was officially opened last week. The development is quite unlike any Australia has known – it is a three-level subterranean concrete and corten steel development with over 6,000 square metres of gallery space. It is comparable in size to Queensland’s Gallery Of Modern Art.

MONA is set to become Australia’s newest and most challenging art destination. Located at the Moorilla vineyard in Berriedale, Tasmania, the museum is dedicated to all things interesting and controversial. It houses a plethora of multimedia artworks including installations, paintings, light shows, mummies and African art. Its multi-millionaire owner, art collector, investor and arts patron David Walsh, says the museum is designed to inspire debate.

“The museum is my soap box and I’ve got one hell of a megaphone. MONA was built to shock and offend, challenge, inform, entertain and provoke debate,” he said.

It seems, like the art itself, nothing is usual about this museum; the excavation and construction works required the specialist knowledge of mining consultants. Coffey International Limited (“Coffey”) was engaged to apply their geotechnical and mining experience to the site which was originally a sheer cliff face beside the Derwent River. By applying tunnelling, shaft and extraction techniques from large-scale mine operations more than 35,000 cubic metres of sandstone and fill were excavated to create the 140 metre long building.

Coffey International Group General Manager of Operations, Dan O’Toole said this was an unusual application of mining technology and skills to suit the commercial development.

“With a large amount of rock and sandstone to be moved, Fender Katsalidis (architects) knew it would take specialist geotechnical and mining consultants to perform the foundation and excavation design works. Coffey’s a multi-skilled specialist consultancy and we continue to monitor the site,” he said.

Walsh's architect, Nonda Katsalidis, designed the museum as a visual extension of its natural landscape and the design continues to play on the interrelationship between the environment and built form within the museum.

The impressive building, which was constructed by Hansen Yuncken, includes 6,000 cubic metres of concrete and a 1400 square metre sandstone feature wall. The rock wall provides a 12 metre high exposed feature in the Museum and is ‘living’ as parts will flow with water during rain.

It has been projected that MONA will attract more than 250,000 visitors in its first year of operation – about half the population of Tasmania. Local tourism operators hope it will attract increased numbers of interstate visitors.

Media contacts

Angela James, Global Manager External Communications, Coffey
T +61 2 8404 4415 F +61 2 9419 5689 M +61 428 905 573

Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania