Photographer: MONA/Jesse Hunniford

Un-museum-like in almost every respect bar name, MONA – the Museum of Old and New Art – is the culturally subversive centrepiece of Hobart’s Moorilla Estate.

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Hobart, Australia


Museum of Old and New Art


$70 million


9,500 sqm



Traditional Custodians

Palawa people


  • Australian Institute of Architects TAS Awards, John Lee Archer Triennial Prize, 2013
  • Australian Institute of Architects National Awards, Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture, 2012
  • Australian Institute of Architects TAS Awards, People’s Choice Prize, 2012
  • Australian Institute of Architects TAS Awards, The Alan C Walker Award for Public Architecture, 2012
  • Property Council of Australia / Rider Levett Bucknall Innovation and Excellence Awards, John Holland Award for Best Public Building, 2012
  • Concrete Institute of Australia - Awards for Excellence in Concrete, Award for Excellence, 2012
  • Master Builders Australia National Excellence in Building and Construction Awards, National Commercial/Industrial Construction Award $50-$100 Million, 2011
  • See all
Photographer: Remi Chauvin / Artwork: Jannis Kounellis, Untitled (2002), Sir Sidney Nolan, Snake (1990-72)

Envisioned by the client as a functional receptacle, not an architectural spectacle, the three-level subterranean museum is carved into and under its heritage-protected peninsula setting: the structure’s waffle concrete and corten steel container displacing 60,000 tonnes of earth and sandstone from the riverside. Materiality, combined with extensive perimeter plantings, ensure its bold geometry will be subsumed by the landscape over time.

Cleft through bedrock, cascading flights of stairs link the museum’s private ferry landing to its green roof and terraced plaza, which re-establish the original height of the clifftop. From here, visitors descend to the lowest level of the complex via a spiral staircase situated within one the estate’s two heritage-listed Roy Grounds villas.

Photographer: Remi Chauvin
Photographer: John Gollings


Intended to de-program, if not spatially disorient, the arrival journey continues post-staircase through a slender rock-hewn corridor, before reaching its denouement at the three-storey, sandstone-walled corridor volume, acting as a universal organising space.

That rawness of material is replicated throughout the interior. Thinking outside the traditional white box, the building’s internal structure is left exposed, revealing its sculptural envelope and connecting inside with outside in a way that defies the absence of windows.

Photographer: Remi Chauvin

Despite eschewing any programmed circulation strategy, the planning of the museum is straightforward and systematic. The middle of its three levels is mainly plant and administration, while the gallery spaces and halls across all levels combine artwork-specific and generic configurations in a mix of single, double and triple-storey volumes. 

Connectivity between levels is achieved via an assortment of variously placed lifts and internal stairwells: some traversing one level, others two.

Photographer: Leigh Carmichael / Artwork: Damien Hirst, Beautiful mis-shapen purity clashing excitedly outwards painting (1995), Roman Signer, Fahrrad mit Farbe (1995-2003), Toby Ziegler, Vita lis (2007), Marc Quinn, No Visible Means of Escape (1996)
Photographer: Brett Boardman / Artwork: Anselm Keifer, Sternenfall/ Shevirath ha Kelim (2007)


The second Roy Grounds villa – a round, two-storey structure – contains the MONA reference library. Accessed via an underground tunnel from the lowest level of the main building, it also leads to the museum’s Kiefer Pavilion, purpose-built at the artist’s behest to accommodate his Sternenfall/Shevirath ha Kelim.

The Tasmanian Heritage Council has recognised Moorilla Estate/MONA by introducing a new provisional replacement entry in the Tasmanian Heritage Register.

Photographer: John Gollings
Photographer: John Gollings

Leadership Team: