Culture

MONA Announces Plans For A 172-Room Hotel Atop The Museum

Hobart's crown jewel is about to get a whole lot bigger.

Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art – or MONA, as it’s best known – has been the crown jewel in the island’s rich cultural landscape for a while now, and it’s about to get a whole lot bigger.

In plans announced by founder David Walsh yesterday, the facility is set to get a 172-room, five-star hotel cheekily dubbed HOMO (a portmanteau of “hotel” and MONA) and resembling an upside-down Golden Gate Bridge. The project will see rooms overlooking the picturesque Derwent River, while “special experience rooms” will be developed in collaboration with a number of internationally renowned artists. (The six existing MONA Pavilions have been created using a similar concept.)

“It’s very simple, really. We like building stuff. So far, it has gone pretty well for us, and hopefully also for our communities,” Walsh said in a press release. “We can’t rest on our laurels forever. The heart of MONA is chance.”

Also included in the plans is an expansive library designed to house Walsh’s expanding collection of rare books and manuscripts. In keeping with the museum’s community appeal, the unique facility will be open to everyone from hotel guests and researchers to members of the public.

MONA library renderings

Photo: Fender Katsalidis Architects via MONA

An indoor theatre capable of accommodating everything from circus acts to school concerts (along with just over 1000 spectators) is on the way, while a new music stage and amphitheatre will pop up outside. A children’s playground designed by textile artist Toshiko Horiuchi Macadam and sculpture by Tom Otterness will fill the green space beyond.

MONA children's playground rendering

Photo: Fender Katsalidis Architects via MONA

There’ll be some kind of spa centre, too, however MONA reps say it’s “hard to describe because we haven’t figured it out yet”. Whatever it ends up being, you know it’s gonna be good.

Announcements for the museum’s new accommodation offerings follow a number of other developments, including a gallery extension which will house four purpose-built James Turrell installations, a proposal to build a 34-pod “caravan park” called HOBO, and an “anti-casino” called Monaco – a private, members-only, poker machine-free facility for out-of-towners, described as “an outlet for art and design”.

If that isn’t enough, museum bosses added they’ve applied for funding to move FOMA, MONA’s summer arts festival, to nearby Launceston to bolster the cultural landscape as it has in Hobart.

MONA FOMA festival crowd

Photo Credit: Rémi Chauvin via MONA

“We’d like to embark upon a new creative journey – to relocate to Launceston in search of new challenges, new collaborations, fresh partnerships and novel creative models,” curator Brian Ritchie said. “We want to make it bigger, better, more creative, more diverse, and more famous (and by famous we mean infamous)”.

It’s expected HOMO will take three years to build, while plans for the relocated FOMA festival will be released in due course. Watch this space.

(Lead image:Fender Katsalidis Architects via MONA)