Dive into an Underwater Sculpture Museum on May 18

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Museums have come a long way since the days of “walk, look but don’t touch” and museums are no longer just on land, some of the most spectacular are where you least expect to find them. So, on International Museums Day – May 18, lets take a dive into an underwater sculpture museum.

At a time when our ocean’s coral reefs are in crisis we need to look for help from many sources. One fascinating area asks, can we produce artificial reefs that are not susceptible to ocean warming and coral bleaching and still provide a habitat for marine life? What if we can create artificial reefs that are works of art. One sculptor thinks we can.

Jason deCaires Taylor

Jason deCaires Taylor is a sculptor, environmentalist and professional underwater photographer. A prolific sculptor, he became the first of a new generation of artists to shift the concepts of the Land art movement into the realm of the marine environment. He gained international notoriety in 2006 with the creation of the world’s first underwater sculpture park, situated off the west coast of Grenada in the West Indies. Now listed as one of the Top 25 Wonders of the World by National Geographic the park was instrumental in the government declaring the site a National Marine Protected Area. This was followed in 2009 when he co-founded MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte), a vast collection of over 500 of his sculptural works, installed between Cancun and Isla Mujeres in Mexico.

Other major projects include Museo Atlantico (2016), a collection over 300 submerged sculptures and architectural forms in Lanzarote, Spain, the first of its kind in European waters. The Rising Tide (2016 Thames London) and Ocean Atlas a monumental 60-ton single sculpture located in the Bahamas.

Grenada home to the first Underwater Sculpture Museum

Jason deCaires Taylor’s first project was The Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park located off the west coast of the Caribbean island of Grenada. It opened in 2006 as the world’s first underwater sculpture park and a badly needed artificial reef in an area extensively damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Emily a year later. The work has been included in National Geographic’s Top 25 Wonders of the World.

It can take from 10 to 80 years for hard corals to develop, while the textured surfaces of Taylor’s sculptures encourages coral polyps to attach, eventually forming natural reefs inhabited by a variety of marine life. As our images show Taylor’s sculptures have quickly become a home to an “array of aquatic life: including, flounders, parrot fish, Branded coral shrimp and fire worms.

“The underwater sculpture gallery is a project aiming to create a unique space which highlights environmental processes and explores the complex relationships between art and its environment.”

Says Taylor in Symposium Magazine.

500 Figures inhabit MUSA Underwater Sculpture Museum

In 2009, Taylor created a similar underwater sculpture museum in the Caribbean between Cancun and Isla Mujeres off Mexico’s Yucatan. The Museo Subacuatico de Arte or MUSA features over 500 life-sized figures and has become a world famous, dive attraction since it opened. Tourists can also see the figures through the windows of a glass-bottom boat. (photo – Luis Javier Sandoval)

Installed in an area of damaged reefs, MUSA’s intention is to create an artificial habitat that would attract both tourists and recolonize the ocean floor with marine life.

Celebrated works in the Museum consist of The Silent Evolution (420 sculptures) Man on Fire and Reclamation.

The Museum is divided into two galleries called Salon Manchones and Salon Nizuc. The first is eight meters deep and suitable for both divers and snorkelers and the second four meters deep and only permitted for snorkeling.

Giant Figures Below Atlantic Waters

If you are diving off Lanzarote in Spain’s Canary Islands you will not be alone. You will be swimming amongst 200 life-sized figures that inhabit Europe’s first underwater sculpture museum.

Created by the British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor the figures are 14 meters below the surface of the Atlantic and each sculpture is molded from environmentally friendly, pH neutral material that forms an artificial reef, a natural habitat for marine life and plants.

The Atlantic Museum of Lanzarote is already frequented by “angel sharks, barracuda, sardines and octopus” reads a museum statement.

“The Raft of Lampedusa” is an installation that pays tribute to the ordeal endured by refugees who crossed the Mediterranean in the recent migrant crisis.

The project began in February 2016 when the first pieces were installed and is accessible to snorkelers and scuba divers.

Massive Underwater Statue Of Girl Carrying The Ocean On Her Shoulders

Installed at the beginning of October 2014 on the western coastline of New Providence in Nassau, Bahamas, Ocean Atlas . The girl in the piece seems to struggle underneath a heavy burden, which is appropriate given that she was named after Atlas, the Greek god responsible for bearing the heavens on his shoulders.

The largest single sculpture ever to be deployed underwater, it reaches from the sea floor five meters up to the surface and weighs over sixty tonnes. Assembled underwater in sections using an ambitious new technique developed and engineered by Jason deCaires Taylor.

With our oceans and coral reefs currently facing collapse from numerous threats including; overfishing, habitat loss, ocean acidification, global warming and water pollution the piece symbolizes the burden we are currently asking future generations to carry and the collective responsibility we have to prevent its collapse.

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January 23, 2019 |

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