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Why MONA went mobile: The technology behind Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art

Rohan Pearce | Jan. 4, 2013
There are many things that make visiting Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art an unusual experience. The setting, in the Moorilla winery, the striking architecture of MONA itself, and the intense sensory overload that takes place within its walls, with the shocking (and wonderful) juxtaposition of antiquities and contemporary art.

"There is too much token use of hi-tech these days," he says. "Just because you have all these tools at your disposal, especially in the mobile world, which is taking off, it doesn't mean that you have to use them. You don't just want to use them for the sake of it."

He likens it to the dotcom boom, with people pursuing a model not because it makes sense but because everybody else was doing it. "'Well we've got to have an app' is the cry we hear all the time. Well, do you? What are you going to do with that? Is it just a marketing enterprise? These token exercises where you have an app because the Joneses have an app and everyone else has an app -- that's a waste of money a missed opportunity in terms of investment in technology.

"You really need to look at what you can do with that technology to enhance how visitors engage with your institution. I think that's the key, and there are going to be a lot of opportunities as mobile becomes more ubiquitous, as things like the speeds that we can access data increase.

"All those things are enablers to do things in a much more impressive and exciting way and the challenge for companies like Art Processors is to really leverage that, and to constantly look for better ways of doing things."

Holzner says that MONA has achieved a greater level of public engagement in a shorter amount of time than many major institutions. "You have to ask: why is that?" he says. He believes that part of the reason is the way that MONA makes it easier to engage with what's on display. "And more so than make it easy, [it] makes it enjoyable and empowering to the visitor," he says.

"I think that in five to 10 years' time, there will be many more approaches that are similar to what we pioneered at MONA," he says. "At least, I hope so."


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