As Australia’s largest privately funded museum, MONA is home to unconventional artworks requiring similarly unconventional HVAC design to maintain interior conditions.
One such example is Cloaca Professional by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye – a machine that replicates the workings of the human digestive system, literally. Food goes in at one end and excrement comes out the other. The space itself is part of the experiences and was briefed to remain smelly, but the methane and other gases had to be controlled so as not to permeate the entire museum.
The Stephen J. Shanabrook chocolate cast titled On the Road to Heaven the Highway to Hell required its own set of conditions, to protect the work from deterioration.
General exhibition spaces are AAA-rated, a universal standard for museums and art galleries, and require tighter control of humidity and temperature, with a maintained maximum 2°C range across the painting zone.
And all of this takes place in an open-plan building structure with little to no ceiling cavities, polished concrete floors, and limited opportunities to conceal services. Accordingly, services engineers WSP Lincolne Scott selected a displacement system as the most appropriate method of conditioning the space.
In line with the iconoclastic nature of the museum, the combined services plant room has become part of MONA’s exhibition.
So impressed was owner David Walsh with the visual result of the coordinated madness of the plant room that he asked for a walkway to be provided off the adjacent gallery to allow visitors to view “the guts” of the museum.
Since opening its doors in January 2011, MONA has received millions of visitors and has been hailed for reviving the Tasmanian tourist economy. It is the second-most visited tourist attraction in the state, behind Salamanca Market.