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Tasmanian collector David Walsh owns Jenny Saville’s Matrix, 1999 (above), which he describes as “one of the pieces I like most”

Imagine a museum that assaults every sense as you walk through its rooms. A museum where the rotting flesh from one work of art is fed to the mechanical digestive system of another so it can be processed and turned into excrement; where the mutilated bodies of suicide bombers are sculpted in chocolate and the Bible and Torah are displayed with bombs inside them.

Imagine a museum that overturns virtually every accepted notion of institutional practice: an underground museum with no natural light, with a deliberately confusing design so visitors get lost as they wander through its halls, and a museum which, in places, is incredibly noisy and very, very smelly.

This is the vision of David Walsh, mathematician, professional gambler, vineyard and brewery owner, who describes his Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) currently nearing completion outside the Tasmanian capital Hobart, as both an “unmuseum” and a “subversive Disneyland”.

Mona has been under construction for the past three-and-a-half years and, if all goes according to plan, it will open to the public in January free of charge. We recently visited Walsh and were given a rare interview as well as a first look at his new building and the art he has collected to go inside it.


Cristina Ruiz
The Art Newspaper