LA Times Tasmania as a Cabinet of
Hewn out of ancient sandstone, the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania is an ever-expanding look at eccentric and challenging art. (James Bartlett).
James Bartlett, No longer a pit stop and much more than a place to dump prisoners, Tasmania is a kind of cabinet of curiosities, Los Angeles Times, 19 October 2o18
For 175 years, explorers and adventurers spent their last night in Hobart, Tasmania, before setting off into the unknown, icy wasters of the Antarctic in search of fame, science and the South Pole.
For 50 years, it was also the notorious last stop for about 75,000 prisoners from the British Empire.
But now people are flocking to the heart-shaped island for very different reasons.
Last year major cruise lines made 95 port calls here, thanks to newly lengthened wharves that can accommodate the largest vessels.
Arriving passengers will soon notice two vessels that colorfully illustrate the island’s history.
The first is almost unmissable. It’s the orange Aurora Australis, an icebreaking research vessel the Australian government uses.
The second is the even more eye-catching gray, black and white-camouflaged ferry nearby.
It takes passengers to the Museum of Old and New Art, whose mix of architecture, design and wine has singlehandedly made Tassie a destination in its own right.
The huge Triassic-era sandstone underground bunker is full of eccentric and challenging art owned and funded by philanthropist and gambler David Walsh.
It’s based at Walsh’s Moorilla winery in the north of the city, Pieces such as “Fat Car” and the controversial “Cloaca Professional” will appeal to art lovers, but dining at the Sourcerestaurant — perhaps at the outdoor “living tables” alone is worth the ferry ride.
The Pharos wing, which juts out over the Derwent River, contains four works by Los Angeles native James Turrell.
It opened late last year, and booking is still essential for his “Unseen Seen,” a 14-minute trip that has you lying inside a space-age white ball and experiencing rapid-fire color kaleidoscopes.
You have to experience it to describe it, but be aware that it requires a waiver to take part.
A cinema, concerts, library, outdoor sculptures and more make a visit to MONA essential, but there’s still plenty more to do — and much of it is close to where you disembark in Hobart.