Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art, founded and owned by David Walsh, has announced that due to the current Covid-19 outbreak in Australia it will close indefinitely. Its last day open will be Tuesday, March 17.

The museum, known for its bold and polarising works, is also behind art festival Dark Mofo, one of the first major Australian events to call it quits as virus transmissions began to increase locally.

In a statement, Mona co-CEO Mark Wilsdon said Mona will be closed “for the foreseeable future”.

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“In these exceptional and unprecedented circumstances, our priority is to do what we can as early as possible in the interests of public health, and that means closing Mona at this stage,” Wilsdon said. “We will continue to review our options, with more information to come. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to take care of themselves and each other.”

David Walsh also released a statement, which can be read in full on the Mona website.

“What do you do when you’re trying to predict something that can’t be predicted? Panic may be a legitimate option, but as someone who holds a level of responsibility to the staff and the community, that option isn’t open to me,” the statement reads.

“I’ll keep everything together as long as I can, and that should be a long time. I’ll delay building projects and maintenance. I’ll stop taking holidays (not having a choice is a potent motive). I hope people care enough to visit when we reopen. I hope that people care enough to understand why we’ve closed.”