“When he conceptualised Mona, David really wanted to reinvent the wheel. The presentation is not linear, like a normal museum. There’s no ‘correct’ way to do it. It’s all about creating your own adventure.”
Former casino croupier Led Emmett spent more than a decade travelling through the Americas, Africa and Asia before arriving in sleepy Hobart in Tasmania. It was here he met the charismatic millionaire David Walsh, whose Museum of Old and New Art (Mona), on the outskirts of the city, is considered one of Australia’s most mind-bending cultural attractions.
David liked Led so much that he created a new role at Mona especially for him. Now, Led works as the museum’s guest attaché, curating bespoke itineraries for the steady stream of VIPs and celebrities who visit the venue. One such itinerary is the new Dinner With David experience, which Walsh describes as an “over-priced two-day abomination” that includes private jet transfers to and from Mona, two nights’ accommodation in one of the museum’s luxury ‘pavilions’ and the centrepiece event: a blow-out meal with David himself at the museum’s acclaimed Source restaurant.
“David is a fascinating fellow,” says Led. “He’s highly intelligent: you wouldn’t want to battle wits with him at any point. But he’s also very down-to-earth. He’s the opposite of a prima donna – a perfect dinner companion… especially if you’re into rambling astrophysics and maths chat.”
Also included is a private tour of the labyrinthine museum with Mona’s head curator, who will shed light on a genre-mashing collection that encompasses ancient Egyptian artefacts, and works by iconic Australian painter Sir Sidney Nolan and international luminary James Turrell. “Everything you see was selected by David,” says Led. “He’s totally to blame. We’re all at the whim of his questionably-wired brain.”
The experience also includes the possibility of pre-dinner tennis, but Led cautions against taking David up on this. “His sledging game is too strong.”
Cultural Attractions of Australia is pleased to present this series of the stories behind the storytellers who have enriched the experiences of countless visitors to our iconic attractions whilst their doors are temporarily closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Credit: Dinner with David.
Credit: Source Restaurant, Mona.
Credit: White House 2015 by Ai Weiwei.