Tag Archives: art

Do you know who MONA is?

This BLOG post originally appeared 11/12/11 on our old site with the title “what the heck is MONA”.  MONA is still a great place to visit so we thought we would re-post.  Hopefully we will get to Tasmania again some day soon!

Just a short flight from Melbourne takes you to the island of Tasmania known for the Tasmanian Devil and convicts.

On our first night in the Australian state of Tasmania we stayed at the lovely, modern and somewhat funky Mona Pavillion. Here there are 8 stand alone villa units with either one or two bedrooms as well as a presidential suite facing the River Derwent. From the outside they look somewhat like a space ship.


From the inside they are right out of a James Bond movie. Each unit is named after Australian artists or architects. We stayed in Walter.

DSC_0393Walter from the outside

DSC_0376Living space in Walter

Each villa faces the harbor providing wonderful views throughout the day. And how could you not have a wonderful view, 3 of the walls are windows. Now i’m not saying they have windows….i’m saying they ARE windows. Full windows with shades that are operated by remote controls on the walls. How cool is that!


These modernly appointed villas have everything your heart desires including a stocked wine bar, chilling each bottle to its exact prefect drinking temperature! The fridge is stocked with local beers, juices, soft drinks and milk.


DSC_0392Yes, we had to pull them out to take a photo!

Our unit was a two bedroom, each with it’s own bathroom. And speaking of bathroom! Yeah this is my kind of set up! Oversized Jacuzzi tub with TV on the wall and a remote that if dropped into the water neither electrocutes you and still works!



The beds, extremely comfortable….you’ll just have to take my word on that and in the morning wake to the wonderful sounds of nature chirping outside. Our bedrooms were tastefully decorated, some had a bit more of the shock factor going on.

DSC_0382Bedroom #1 in Walter

DSC_0435Bedroom #2 in Walter

DSC_0422One of the bedroom’s in the Roy (the largest pavilion)

Each unit is priced differently based upon it’s size but run between $390 – $990 per night based upon 2-4 guests. Plus tax of course. There are full cooking and laundry facilities in each unit.


These pavilions have everything a traveler could want.  As a matter of fact on a placard in the villas it says “we can arrange almost anything legal, just ask”. I’d call that customer service!

So what the heck is MONA?

Well it stands for Museum of Old and New Art. Mona is located just a short 10 minutes outside Hobart, Tasmania and is home to a somewhat shocking if not weird museum, a vineyard, cellar door and wine bar, a brewery, a restaurant, the Pavilion’s and of course a shop.

DSC_0396 Main building

DSC_0447The restaurant

DSC_0448The cellar door

At the cellar door you get a 1 hr. tasting and the admission fee is refunded if you purchase. Wine tours are available for $15.

DSC_0451Of course we tasted…and purchased!

DSC_0475The wine bar and brewery

On Friday and Saturday evenings you can get a 1 hr. beer tour and tasting for $15. They make 4 types of beer and all have no preservatives and are not pasteurized. You got to love the catchy “Moo Beer” name! Wine and beer master classes can be arranged upon request.

DSC_0478Believe it or not, we did not try them all!

As for the museum, lets just say it might not be for everyone as many exhibits are downright shocking and for some would be repulsive.

DSC_0483Museum entry

As the statement goes, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” this pretty much sums the gallery up. The owner, David Walsh aka Glenn Walsh. Tourists not from Tasmania pay $20 for admission, those under 18 are free. Some of the exhibits are sexually explicit, others personally confronting thus the gallery may not be for children.

DSC_0493Plaster molds of a woman’s privates

DSC_0494The white room

DSC_0497The woodpecker (sorry just trying to give you a feel for the museum)

DSC_0517The human digestive system recreated, this woman is actually feeding the machine lunch at 1130am (sandwich, salad, fruit and a drink).  At 200pm it has a bowel movement! We did not hang around for that!!


Coolest thing in the museum, mummy on the left, xray tomography of it on the right!

So, that is MONA.  Who wants to go?  It really is quite a cool place, definitely 2 or 3 nights are needed.

Spelunking in Champagne

Websters defines spelunking as “the hobby or practice of exploring caves”.

Well, we are adventurous, but also a bit soft.

So for our soft spelunking adventure, we explored the chalk caves at Domaine Pommery in Rheims, France.   Jeanne Alexandrine Louise Melin was born in the Ardennes area of France in 1819.  She married Alexandre Pommery in 1839.  When Alexandre passed away in 1860 she assumed full control of their wine business.   Madame Pommery went about establishing the reputation of Pommery as a force to be reckoned with.   She commissioned a grand property in Rheims with an eclectic mix of architectural styles.   Built in 1863 the estate covers 120 acres and sits on top of 11 miles of Gallo-Roman chalk caves.

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Pommery Champagne House

The entrance hall is also where the tasting room and gift shop is located.

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Known as “le Grand Foudre”, the Pommery blending barrel in the tasting room is one of the largest in the world and holds the equivalent of 100,000 bottles.  The barrel was made to celebrate the friendship by Pommery between France and America and was sent to St. Louis for exhibition at the World’s Fair of 1904.  The sculptures represent France in the form of a young woman offering a glass of Pommery to America (yeah!).  She is astride a sphinx like creature with the head of an Indian.  On the top is the Statue of Liberty (also a gift from France).

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le Grand Foudre

Detail on le Grand Foudre

Detail on le Grand Foudre

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You didn’t drink too much yet – it is an elephant standing on its nose at Pommery.

The ancient chalk caves became a unique cellar which allowed Pommery to story over 20 million bottles in a temperature controlled environment.

No ropes needed for our spelunking adventure, we simply walk down the stairs.

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Entrance (and exit) stairs to Champagne caves

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OK, we are getting just a bit thirsty, but these bottles are not ready

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We selected our bottles, but realize there will be some problems getting them in our suitcases without going over the airlines weight limit.  Probably best to just drink them here.

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Chalk wall carving

Pommery is well-known for hosting on-going art exhibits.  You will find temporary art installations everywhere on the property.  Also there are these amazing wall carvings which are etched directly into the walls of the caves.

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Louise Pommery ran the wine house after Madame Pommery died.

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Behind a locked gate and easy to see why – amazing stuff!

Just a small fraction of the millions of bottles aging in the cellars.

Just a small fraction of the millions of bottles aging in the cellars.

Our most artistic shot

Our most artistic shot

It's art - the boots actually move, sorry did not have video going.

It’s art – the boots actually move, sorry did not have video going.

The signature "Louise"

The signature “Louise”

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Thanks for joining us on our spelunking adventure in Champagne!

When you are done with your Champagne tastings, have some dinner and then walk over to the Rheims Cathedral for a night-time spectacular.