Launched in January 2011 by gambling millionaire and maverick David Walsh, Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is on Australia's art map and is credited with having spared Hobart from the worst of the tourism declined triggered by the global financial crisis. During its first year MONA attracted about 400,000 visitors and is the state's number one visitor attraction. It was named Tasmania's best new tourism development of 2011 and is in the running for the national tourism awards in March.
Transforming Hobart's image from a sleepy backwater to a cultural playground comes at a cost. The $80m museum costs about $15m a year to run, which prompted Wash to start charging interstate visitors (entry remains free for Tasmanians). However the real money is to come from the sale of technology, such as the “O”, the super-smart, iPod-like device that in the absence of wall labels provides information about artworks when pointed at them, and tracks visitors movements in the gallery.
Image: MONA, Hobart