The Telegraph has a profile of David Walsh, the mathematically gifted gambler, and his Tasmanian Museum of New and Old Art (Mona) which has proven the phenomenal power that art has to attract tourists in the 21st Century:
Walsh calls Mona a secular temple and a subversive adult Disneyland. If some of his early ideas for exhibits – a crematorium and an abattoir that were viewable – remain unrealised, Mona still goes somewhere beyond the frontiers of taste into the badlands of emotion. It has been derided as a museum for the YouTube generation, an underground inverted pyramid, an egoseum, the future, the past, an un-museum and – hurtfully for Walsh, one feels – conventional. Mostly, people have loved it.
Designed like a Borgesian labyrinth, lit like a nightclub, Mona, since it opened on a remote island with a population of 500,000, has attracted more than 700,000 people. Visitors came first from Tasmania, then from Australia and now, increasingly, from the world – a growing caravan of celebrities, art lovers, aficionados, camp followers and the curious. In less than two years, Mona has become Tasmania’s foremost tourist attraction and a significant driver of its languishing economy. Lonely Planet listed Hobart as one of the world’s top 10 cities to visit in 2013, largely because of Mona.