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    Mona’s David Walsh announces plans for gallery expansion and on-site hotel

    Kirsty Sier

    The founder of Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) has revealed plans for the long-anticipated “next phase” of the gallery.

    At a luncheon for Tasmania’s tourism industry last week, David Walsh unveiled designs for expansions to the gallery, including a new on-site hotel called Homo – an acronym for HOtel MOna.

    If planning approval from government and community support are both received, the five-star, 172-room hotel will be built outwards from the existing gallery site at Berridale. Draft renders for the project – designed by David Walsh in collaboration with Fender Katsalidis Architects (FKA)  – reveal an orange steel-and-glass structure that juts out over the bay in an elongated rhombus shape. The sky-scraping design is a departure from the architecture of Mona itself, the majority of which is underground.

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    Walsh says the design of Homo – including its colour scheme – was modelled off the Golden Gate bridge in California. Expected to cost more than $3 million, its construction will necessitate an excavation over four times more substantial than that required by the gallery. If approved, the hotel will be built top-down from a suspension bridge, with the top seven floors to be suspended from above.

    According to Walsh, Homo would contain a number of “special experience” rooms to be developed in collaboration with a handful of international artists. It will additionally contain a series of conference and retail spaces, a library, a playground designed by textile artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam, a 1,075-seat theatre, and a new spa and treatment centre.

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    “We’re going to charge you a fortune,” says Walsh in characteristic wry fashion. “You’ll pay because either you’re easily deluded, or because it’s spectacular.”

    The on-site library design was also revealed during the tourism luncheon last week. The three-storey space will comprise a circular design, and will house “some really good stuff”, according to Walsh. Some of these include rare books, manuscripts and documents that Walsh says he’s been collecting “for a lot longer than I’ve been collecting art”.

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    Mona’s “next phase” will additionally include expansions to the gallery itself, such as a new tunnel and tower. A long talked-about casino – called Monaco – has also been included in the development plans. This latter Walsh says will be “anathema for art people”.

    Plans for the proposed Mona expansion have yet to be submitted to Glenorchy city council. Although some extensions to the current museum are already underway – with a scheduled completion date of December this year – the remaining development phases are expected to take up to three years if approved.

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