Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania

The Museum of Old and New Art is the largest and most significant private art collection in the southern hemisphere. The creation of a private art collector and philanthropist, the museum is designed around an eclectic range of contemporary works and rare artefacts, from 6,000 year-old-exhibits to interactive, audio-visual pieces.


  • Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


  • Museum of Old and New Art

Project Status

  • Completed in 2011


Services and sustainability combine to create a compelling air of mystery

We provided building servicesarchitectural lighting and sustainable design for the project. Considerable integration between the artwork and the building services was required to ensure the optimum conditions of temperature and humidity for the precious antiques and artwork, without detracting from the aesthetics.

One challenge was that the complex architecture features large expanses of polished concrete, leaving few opportunities to conceal services in walls, floors or ceiling voids. We worked closely with the architect to integrate the services within the structure. The complex matrix of cable paths and ductwork had to be embedded in the concrete, meaning that there was no room for error. Our team constructed a series of mock-ups during the early construction stages to ensure all the services were correctly positioned. An additional level sandwiched between the upper and lower floors concealed all the building plant. This avoided unnecessarily long runs of ductwork, cables and multiple bends.

The 9,500m2 museum is built on sandstone above the relatively cold Derwent River. Harnessing the thermal mass of the rock became a major part of the cooling solution. Cool air enters the gallery spaces at the base of floating walls and returns via a gap at the top, eliminating the need for any visible outlets or grilles.

The lighting strategy creates a dark and mysterious atmosphere within the gallery, giving the impression of a subterranean world. There are no labels on the exhibits. Instead visitors carry customised iPods. This ground-breaking system allowed Mona’s lighting designer to focus on creating atmosphere without any compromise to light for informative signage.