In January 2011, MONA was officially opened to the public. It was lauded as the most extraordinary cultural event for Australia since the opening of the Sydney Opera House. David Walsh was a largely mysterious art collector who had made a fortune gambling.
He had collected ancient coins and antiquities and established a small museum of antiquities on his Moorilla estate but subsequently he became interested in art of all periods. In 2006, Walsh was the anonymous winning bidder of John Brack's The Bar, which the NGV had so publicly declared it was going to purchase. It was a move that kept the media and art circles guessing for some time and was, in its way, classic Walsh behaviour. Over several years he bought a huge number of works and he started thinking about a gallery space in which to house them.
But a conventional museum wasn't what Walsh was after.
He wanted to transform the viewer's experience of art. There began the earliest ideas for MONA, a museum of old and new art. Adrian Franklin, professor of sociology at the University of Tasmania, has pieced together the story of the creation of MONA, from how it came to be on the banks of the Derwent River, to the design and building process, the collection and branding and, crucially, designing the experience and effect that MONA has on its many millions of visitors.