Similarities to an Art Museum

Written By: Cameron Stueber

From city streets to quiet galleries, the setting of an artistic museum goes from ordinary to unorthodox.

Classical Installations

Museums on nearly every continent house collections of the finest and most extraordinary works of art and creative expression. In France, they have the Louvre, which is home to a collection of some 30,000 items, including an assortment of paintings from early 17th century Holland, and an array of Ancient Egyptian tombs. In North America, The Smithsonian and a variety of Natural History Museums preserve an amount of knowledge and artwork that even hours of silent contemplation could not fully encompass. There is also the Australian Museum in Sydney, Australia and the National Museum of China in Beijing. They are amongst the most notorious and well-known museums around the world where people go to share in the knowledge and appreciation of history and creativity. However, the similarities that define such places expand far beyond the walls of any exhibit.

Silent Hallways

Where the consideration of museum walls fall short to contain their wares rests on the moment of speculation that arises before a particularly interesting piece. As individuals drift mindfully through sceneries and portraits, one may try to absorb what the artists are saying; what the paintings reply. The silence allows for the images to say more than either may have ever intended. It is, in a way, the most notable feature of many museums next to the artwork themselves. It is a quality that is so intrinsic to art museums that one may carry with them the silent air, as a vesper cloud of the gallery when they depart from an afternoon of musing appreciatively over artwork indoors to find themselves among the outdoor galleries of architecture and graffiti.

Beyond the Walls

Now, the greatest part of any artistic expression arrives to the foreground with unlimited horizons. As creativity is not often ever easily confined by any means or measures, boundaries provide artists with the challenge of reaching beyond standards to raise realms of the abnormal and even the strange. Even the artist who deals with the ordinary will often do so with the intention of testing the very boundary that it represents. The conception of modern street art and its canvas of architecture does this in such a way that few other artists could achieve through alternative media. At the very best of examples, something ordinary and ultimately unnoticeable is transformed into something that could halt the busy bustling of common passersby for at least a moment of real awareness.

What Walls?

Constant sensibilities of artistic reverence find their way beyond what is constructed around them for those who seek where museums go. Mere collections of human expression do not match the entirety of creation, and some of the most worthwhile exhibits are adorned without red ropes and crafted without tools. The living world of snow-capped mountains and of forest glades is a museum to be found unto itself, unset by canvas or clay, and is always open for the public to enjoy.

MONA in Tasmania offers a most unusual museum experience

Written By: Kirby Fredendall

Lloyd Neubauer writing for CNN Travel described MONA as “the world’s most far-out museum.” This unique museum throws traditional perceptions of the art museum into the air and watches them fall into creative pieces along the banks of MONA’s location on the Derwent River in Tasmania.

Mathematician David Walsh founds MONA

David Walsh, a mathematician, created algorithms that allowed him to collect millions from casinos and bookies, beating them at their own game. As luck would have it, Walsh is also an avid art collector who has spent part of his millions to open a museum to house his artistic vision, calling it the Museum of Old and New Art. From its uncommon financial beginnings, MONA continues to defy traditional museum stereotypes.

Admission to MONA is free

Unlike traditional museums, entrance to MONA is free. As a young boy, Walsh was able to visit the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery for free. He continues to feel that the museum experience should be open to all free of charge. His $75 million museum houses $30 million in artwork and costs $8 million each year to run. Despite the cost to run the museum, admission remains free.

Unconventional entry

Walsh has made it a point to break the rules about what a museum is supposed to look like. Rather than classical stairs, pillars, and elaborate cornices to mark entry, Walsh brings visitors past a tennis court to an unmarked doorway, which leads to an underground museum. Gone is the sense of personal smallness in the grandeur and authority formerly bestowed upon the museum.

Visitors enter MONA through a modernist heritage listed building. Each visitor is given the use of an iPod that guides them through the museum. The phone is marked, in characteristic Walsh style, “Art Wank.” Visitors descend into the three stories of native subterranean Triassic sandstone, where they are faced with work revolving around sex, death, and evolution.

Now Showing at MONA: Ballen, DuPrat, and the Red Queen

The museum’s dark side is revealed in the current showing of Roger Ballen’s work. Described as a “wound opener,” Ballen uses black and white photography along with drawings and sculpture to create work that is autobiographical as well as an existential commentary on the dark psychology of human nature.

Hubert DuPrat is a self-taught and self-professed amateur whose multimedia pieces explore the relationship between artistry and science through unique sculptural materials and techniques.

The Red Queen has been co-opted from Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” to present a picture of 21st century evolutionary biology through the lens of the creation of art.

Cremation included in lifetime membership

Unlike any other museum, a lifetime membership includes cremation, placement in a fancy jar, and internment in the museum.

Visiting MONA

Visit the museum website or CNN’s travel site for directions and accommodation information. Walsh has made visiting easy with on-site accommodations, bars, and restaurants. The museum is built on the Morilla Estate, which is Tasmania’s second oldest vineyard, allowing museum-goers to also partake in wine tastings during their stay.


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