“It wasn’t our joke to make”: $400m hotel ditches controversial name

Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art has unveiled plans for a  $400 million luxury hotel, but it won’t be named HoMo.

The project has a new working name because the previous one, a shortening of the words Hotel and Mona, had “offended a few people” according to museum founder David Walsh.

The five-star hotel will now be known as Motown, Walsh explaining the previous title was meant to be “celebratory” but had backfired despite best intentions.

“It turned out that I didn’t really have the right to call something HoMo when I’m not gay, and it offended a few people because I guess I was being culturally insensitive,” Walsh said.

“The people that didn’t like it really didn’t like it, and that matters to me.

“We hoped the name would keep the homophobes at bay … [but] it was decided that it wasn’t [our] joke to make.”

The museum has previously sparked criticism from sections of the community over some of the provocative exhibits featured in its annual Dark Mofo winter festival.

The ambitious new hotel plan, which includes water access via Venice-style ferries, has been officially submitted to Glenorchy Council.

It features 172 rooms and will include a theatre, spa centre, outdoor concert stage as well as conference and auditorium facilities, green spaces, a playground and sculptures.

The centrepiece will be a library spread over three levels featuring Mr Walsh’s “large and growing nerd fest of bibliophilic paraphernalia courtesy of total lightweights like Einstein, Newton, Darwin and Dickens”.

Walsh attributes his success in life to good fortune and libraries, saying he wants to “do to libraries what I did to museums”.

“There was a library in Glenorchy, where I was raised. I spent a lot of time there. It didn’t so much change my life as it gave me the capacity to change my life,” he said.

“A lot of people don’t go to libraries, a lot of people don’t go to museums. I’d like to change that. I think we’ve had a little bit of success with regard to getting people into museums.”

It is unclear how the $400 million development will be funded but Walsh, a professional gambler and art collector, has asked the state government to act as a guarantor.

The development is touted for completion by 2024.

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