Metal beasts scratching the floor of a museum are a sign of the future at Mona

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“We love to dig – the holes in the ground are great,” says Jarrod Rawlins, director of conservation affairs. Behind this barrier, a new wing of the museum is taking shape: the Maison Kiefer, dedicated to the German artist Anselm Kiefer, which is scheduled to open in 2022/3.

“I think this is one of the most exciting permanent art constructions I can imagine in any museum anywhere,” Rawlins boasts. “It’s a very fine undertaking, a spectacular installation, to rebuild a giant amphitheater that Kiefer built on his property in the south of France.

“The team is having a good time solving the problems.”

Mona doesn’t have an end goal or blueprint, says Rawlins, a likable character who enjoys a glass of wine and sharing gossip about a close encounter with John Lydon of the Sex Pistols at the time.

“It’s learning by doing,” he says. “This place is an incredible site for entertainment, from art to music to food and beverage. It’s a learning site – especially for David because it’s a private museum.

“We just keep finding things to experiment with. Test. To create an activity for learning.

Rawlins says a lot of the inspiration comes from the owner. “[Walsh is] years to come in his head, ”he says. “He doesn’t do blueprints, he’s just like ‘oh, let’s build a museum, oh, let’s build a bigger one.’ It continues to evolve. “

Mona reopened for her 10th birthday on Boxing Day 2020, having closed the previous March due to the pandemic. But since then Tasmania has often been an island of its own. Last week the borders reopened and Mona hosted a ‘weekend at Walshie’s’ to celebrate the return of the mainlanders. Some works of art are also freshly accessible with the easing of COVID precautions.

The museum took advantage of the 2020 closure to make a major overhaul. Much of the art has come out, for its own preservation, and much has not returned to the same place. They knew visitors would be hard to find for a while, so they had to draw locals in for another look. But part of it “just seemed like the right thing to do, spring cleaning, let’s spruce it up,” Rawlins says.

His brief from Walsh was “let’s make it a little weirder, a little more fun”.

“So we had fun with the shot,” says Rawlins. For example, the new ‘super lounge’, with recent centerpieces from the collection such as an Enigma machine, came from curators’ lists of works in the collection they hated most and works they loved the most, chosen at random and then molded into a cohesive whole. space.

“So all of a sudden this whole idea of ​​’taste’ and ‘choice’ completely fell apart … our goal isn’t to tell you what to think, or to tell you that ‘this’ is. more important than “that.” It’s up to you to make your own decisions. Enjoy. We don’t create the cannon, we don’t anoint something. It could be quite the opposite, who knows?

High Tea for Two at the Ladies Lounge at Mona, hosted by Kirsha Kaechele.Credit:Mona / Jesse Hunniford

Nearby is a hall where a Hobart-based composer writes a work to be played daily at 4 p.m., in front of an audience who are given chairs, tables and a bar. Chairs and tables are a theme for the re-hanging: visitors have more places to sit, and instead of benches, there are more elaborate organized lounges (including a Ladies Lounge, which neither of us can enter because we are not women).

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But there are no lounges in the Capper Creatures Room. Here is a clear demarcation between the visitor and the art. Explains Pike: It’s for your own safety.

“[The machines are] quite nimble when allowed to move. But unfortunately, no, it’s too dangerous … we had to contain them … And we had to buy these super-fantastic sensors that go on and off if someone intervenes. You can imagine … “

It’s a bit un-Mona, to fear that one of their works of art could seriously hurt someone, in these tunnels, in the underworld of art.

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