An art gallery? Tasmania is all natural beauty and wine tasting, isn’t it? Why would I be indoors? Whether you’re a regular gallery-goer or someone who finds drawing boring, you’ve never seen anything like this. The Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) is accurately described by its oft-quoted creator, Australian professional gambler David Walsh, as “a subversive adult Disneyland”. Did he get Frank Gehry to do the architecture like they did in Bilbao, Spain? Been there, done that. No, he didn’t. And no, you haven’t. The gallery’s cliffside location in an otherwise dowdy Hobart suburb is reached by the Mona Roma high-speed catamaran from the city’s harbour. If you take first class, the “posh pit”, you’re treated to apparently unlimited supplies of top-quality sparkling white wine and beers from Walsh’s Moorilla vineyard and Moo Brew brewery, along with assorted canapés. If you want service, Walsh advises you to “rattle your jewellery”. John Lennon said that first. Never mind that. Mona’s galleries are cut as deep as 17 metres down into caramel-coloured sandstone, and reached by a circular glass lift hidden inside a colonial-era mansion. An underground labyrinth? Who does Walsh think he is – a James Bond villain? Possibly. He seems to think many things about himself, and he’s not slow to reveal them via the O – an adapted iPod Touch that detects where you are and brings up details of the artworks near you. These hidden galleries, along with a more recent, above-ground extension called Pharos that juts into the bay, house a US$100 million collection of antiquities and contemporary art, much of it designed to abash, embarrass or infuriate the viewer. Call me tough, but I’m not easily abashed by art. There’s something here to offend everyone. How about Greg Taylor’s 150 cast-from-life vulvas (whose title cannot be printed by a family newspaper); Stephen Shanabrook’s remains of a suicide bomber sculpted in chocolate; or Julia deVille’s self-explanatory Kitten Trophy Rug ? Perhaps you might flinch from Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca Professional (2010) – a row of “gastrointestinal machines” that reproduce the human digestive system, including the smelly end product? It’s certainly not art you can pooh-pooh. All right, you have my attention. And that of many others. Unsurprisingly, it is far and away Tasmania’s most popular attraction, although looking around on the ferry it’s not hard to think that many who are just ticking off another item on the list of Hobart’s several attractions have no idea what they are letting themselves in for. Not that everything is profanity and pudenda. There’s Tessa Farmer’s The Fairy Horde and the Hedgehog Host (2008). The first impression is one of a bucolic arcadia full of beauty and life as insects dance in the air around the hedgehog. But the life, in fact, springs from its corpse. It is brilliantly disturbing, which might be said to describe much else of the museum’s contents. Not a family day out, then? On the contrary, what better than to expose children to the world of ideas, especially those about the nature of art? There’s much that’s fun, and plenty that’s sober, and signs warn of exposure to an excess of flesh if proceeding beyond a certain point. The Egyptian, Roman and other antiquities get lost in the glare but are worth coming to see in their own right. Perhaps the most asked-about artwork is one that even Walsh suggests may not be an artwork at all. Delvoye’s Tim is a tattoo that sprawls across the back of one Tim Steiner. Tim was sold for € 150,000 to German art collector Rik Reinking in 2008 – the walking canvas received a share himself – on condition that it go on exhibition. Since 2013, the Swiss Steiner has spent thousands of hours at Mona, and when he dies the skin from his back will be removed and framed. I think I might have to drop in and see Tim . He may not be there when you are, of course, and that goes for other artworks, too. Walsh’s 2,000-strong collection exceeds the capacity of even the expanded space available, so displays rotate. Staff are well-informed about the collection and clearly used to answering the questions of the confused. But the site is such a labyrinth that perhaps the most commonly asked question is, “Have we been up there yet?” Tickets cost A$28 (US$20) per person. Admission is free for Tasmanians and for those under 18.