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Lonely Planet catapulted Tasmania into the Top 10 of the world’s must-see places this year.Curators from New York and Paris have marveled at how the museum flouts convention: There are no explanatory placards fixed to the walls, and visitors are encouraged to wander through the subterranean spaces at will.They can stop at the “Fat Car,” a glistening red Porsche plumped with fiberglass into a bulbous symbol of conspicuous consumption by the Austrian sculptor Erwin Wurm.
At the museum’s dock, visitors clamber up 99 steps as if going to a temple.
They can squirm at the “Cloaca Professional” by the Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, who devised six machines suspended from the ceiling that every day duplicate human defecation, and its smells.“The museum is born of risk, just like David’s early life of gambling,” said Leigh Carmichael, a close collaborator of Mr.
Walsh’s and the creative director of the museum’s winter festival.
Not on show at the moment: “The Holy Virgin Mary” by Chris Ofili, the painting of a black Madonna that incorporated elephant dung and created a political furor when it was shown at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 1999. Walsh acquired it some years ago from the Saatchi Gallery in London.
The museum attracts all kinds — traditional art lovers, young art students, tourists who have come to Tasmania for the island’s natural beauty.
Walsh applied his aptitude for mathematics to high-stakes gambling. He suspects, he says, that the drive is biologically based, an evolutionary adaptation.“So the question becomes, ‘How does art help us to survive? “This seems to me the most important art question available (except possibly, ‘What is art? There are probably a number of correct answers, since evolution is opportunistic,” he wrote. Walsh has invited two American experts in evolutionary psychology, Steven Pinker and Geoffrey Miller, and the cognitive scientist and neurobiologist Mark Changizi, who have all visited the museum, to curate exhibits at MONA in 2016.“I am opportunistic also, and I will grab any opportunity to ask a good question while putting some great pictures on the wall,” he said.