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"Subversive Adult Disneyland” Turns Up the Heat in Tasmania

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Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art has won raves—from this magazine, for instance—for its unique, fortress-like architecture. Perhaps even more striking, the museum’s creator, gambling mogul David Walsh, has frequently described the place as “a subversive adult Disneyland.”

High-brow praise, titillating promises ... either could get folks browsing airfares to Tasmania.

Indeed, the museum—with recurring themes of sex and death—seems to be driving a growing desire to visit Tasmania and its capital city, Hobart: According to a recent Telegraph article, more than 700,000 people have visited the museum since it opened in 2011 (for perspective, only 500,000 people actually live in the Australian island state), while Tourism Tasmania statistics indicate that tourist traffic to the island state is up by 10 percent since last year.

To be sure, the holdings at the MONA are memorable: Despite the sex-and-death hype, many visitors might be more struck by the emphasis on digestion, from the lavatory with an array of alarming/revealing mirrors to the giant machine that magically turns food into—well, the same stuff your body turns it into.

Subversively adult? Delightfully juvenile might be more appropriate—and perhaps a recipe for long-term success. (Still, keep actual juveniles away from the vagina-sculpture display, unless you want a lot of questions for the flight home.)

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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