A day to oneself in Hobart, before the Transnational Masterclass, so what to do? I know that I could do MONA, (the Museum of Old and New Art) but I decided to save that for our next trip to Tasmania, when Mr Resident Judge would be with me.
So, instead, a little browse around the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. I was impressed. It was free, for a start. I find Melbourne Museum’s $12.00 entry fee discouraging, especially for a museum that I feel has little depth. It may be doing good work behind the scenes, but there’s little evidence of it in its focus on ‘entertainment’. So- a big tick for free entry to the TMAG and a well-placed donation box to which I was happy to contribute.
The museum has a long connection with the Royal Society of Tasmania which was established by Sir John Franklin in 1845, the first Royal Society established outside Britain. It is located in a number of gallery buildings attached to the commissariat and original bond store which was on the water’s edge prior to reclamation of the wharf area. The museum has had a lot of work done on it recently, and only re-opened last year. I suspect that, like the Melbourne Museum, it has been decluttered, which, in my opinion tends to streamline the experience too much and remove the serendipity- I feel as if I have been ‘evented’ or ‘managed’ through the museum. Nonetheless, the displays were good, complete with a whole room devoted to the thylacine. I remembered seeing the thylacine in a glass case the last time I visited.
I think that the silent, black-and-white video of the last thylacine is so very sad. It played on a loop, over and over.
I very much enjoyed one of the two aboriginal galleries which told the contact story from both settler and Palawa perspectives. You sit the middle of a long gallery as the same event, with a different narrative, is projected on the walls to the left and to the right of you. I suppose that you could watch one, then the other, but I preferred to turn my head from one side to the other (risking a sore neck!) It was very well done.
Then, because I was feeling all colonial-y, I went of to see Narranya House museum. It was built between 1837-40 by Andrew Haig, who had purchased the land on an earlier sojourn in Van Diemens Land as a maritime trader, plying the route between Calcutta, Canton and Valparaiso. Retiring from the sea, he built his house and warehouses facing onto the Salamanca Wharf. The Georgian-style house echoes the respectability and stolidity of similar houses back in England. Alas, all was lost during the depression of the 1840s- the same financial downturn that Judge Willis campaigned against, seeing it as the outcome of individual financial impropriety rather than a structural commercial inevitably, fueled by larger economic forces.
The house was threatened with demolition during the 1950s and saved by local pressure. It was a folk museum for some time, with contributions from many local Hobart families, before being taken over by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. The gardens were beautiful.
Then, finally a walk to my accommodation. Ye Gods- Napoleon Street was STEEP. It was very windy and I had visions of tumbling down the hill, Jack-and-Jill like. Hobart is a very pretty city- I love it.
And finally, after all this walking, I reached my accommodation. I’d been upgraded- how nice!