It’s out and proud: David Walsh has announced a proposed new hotel at MONA in Hobart to named HoMo (that’s HOtel at MOna).
Walsh, art-world provocateur, millionaire, pro-gambler and founder of The Museum of Old and New Art, says the hotel will be a 172-room, five-star “anti-casino” at Berriedale, north of Hobart.
“It's very simple really. We like building stuff. So far it has gone pretty well for us, and hopefully also for our communities,” Walsh said at a Tourism Tasmania event on Wednesday.
“This time, some may think it's gotten a little out of hand - the excavation alone is more than four times the size of that for the museum - but we seem to have some support, the plans have turned out pretty well, and we can't rest on our laurels for ever. The heart of MONA is chance.”
A mock-up of the proposed HoMo at MONA
The proposal includes plans for a spa treatment centre, public library, outdoor stage, restaurant and bar, auditorium, conference centre, function spaces and a retail precinct.
Walsh says he expects the project to “take approximately three years from commencement and will create 300 new full-time construction jobs. When open, HoMo will deliver an additional 120 full time jobs on an ongoing basis”.
The existing ferry terminal will be integrated with the hotel entry so visitors can go from boat to room, and a second ferry is being commissioned in readiness for the hotel.
A design for the planned public library
So far, the reaction to the proposed hotel has been mixed. In response to images of the plans posted to social media, some critics suggested the building resembles a shopping trolley. Others aren’t sure the new project shares Mona’s sensitivity to its surrounding landscape. What do you think?
Also in the works is Monaco, billed as an “anti-casino”. It’s planned as a private, members-only, high-stakes, poker-machine-free casino for non-Tasmanians only. In terms of design, there won’t be any gaudy carpet or Vegas-style kitsch; instead Monaco will be an outlet for art and design.
There’s another MONA move in the works, too: the museum has asked for government funding to shift the hugely popular FOMA, the summer arts and music festival, from Hobart to Launceston.
“The festival’s original ten-year plan—to change the culture in Hobart—has come to fruition ahead of schedule,” said Brian Ritchie, ex-member of The Violent Femmes and MONA FOMA curator.
“We’d like to embark upon a new creative journey - to relocate to Launceston in search of new challenges, new collaborations, fresh partnerships and novel creative models. We want to make it bigger, better, more creative, more diverse and more famous (and by famous we mean infamous).”