They’re both eccentric, extravagant, visionary and occasionally misunderstood; millionaire art mogul and MONA founder David Walsh shares a lot in common with Roald Dahl’s oddball confectioner Willy Wonka.
However, as ABC reports, Walsh’s affinity for the fictional candy man took on a more literal form this weekend, as the gallery owner borrowed a leaf out of Dahl’s beloved children’s book by surprising 1,200 residents of the Berridale area of Hobart, that surrounds MONA, with a block of chocolate, delivered to their letter boxes.
And just like Wonka, Walsh had hidden a golden ticket in a small number of these sweet treats. But rather than winning a trip to a chocolate factory, Walsh’s golden tickets earn their lucky recipients access to the opening gala of MONA’s brand new, $30 million gallery extension, the Pharos wing. Similar tickets have been on sale for $500 a head.
In addition to being a publicity stunt promoting the latest addition to the MONA complex, the chocolate bars are also inscribed with a thank you to local residents, for their patience during Pharos’ construction, and “for putting up with [MONA’s] shenanigans generally.”
This intimate new exhibition space can accommodate just 80 patrons at a time, and will house work by James Turrell, Jean Tinguely, Rando Polumbo, Charles Ross and Richard Wilson.
The Wilson work is believed to be his iconic installation, 20:50, which features a large waist-deep pool of recycled engine oil.
Intriguingly, MONA will require all patrons entering the wing to sign a medical waiver to see some art works.