How often do you visit museums? To tell the truth, I am not really interested in art, but the Underwater Museum is an exception what I really want to see.
The story of the Underwater Museum
The founders of the Underwater Museum are Dr. Jamie Gonzalez Canto (Director of the National Park Costa Occidental Isla Mujeres) and Jason DeCaires Taylor (British sculptor, underwater photographer, marine conservationist, dive instructor).
The Underwater Museum (MUSA - Museo Subacuático de Arte) is dedicated to art and conservation.
The idea of the project was born when Dr. Gonzalez saw sadly that the biggest reef in Cancun, the Manchones Reef was being damaged by tourist. He decided to build artificial reefs for the divers and snorkelers to protect the natural reef, let them regenerate so his team created concrete reefs in 2005. This project was not really successful, because the artificial reef started to flourish slowly, and the concrete cube reefs were not enough interesting for the underwater tourist. Gonzalez started to search other solution and contacted Jason DeCaires. Jason, a famous artist was working at that time on an underwater sculpture in the Canary Islands with the same mission, to create an artificial reef which can attract snorkelers and divers and could provide new living-space for sea life.
They decided to work together and agreed to build the most ambitious underwater artificial art attractions of the world, the Underwater Museum.
The sculptures of the museum
Jason and other five artists created 500 underwater sculptures. The Underwater Museum is divided into two parts:
- Manchones Exhibit room : 8 m deep, suitable for snorkelers and divers, 477 sculptures can be found here
- Nizuc Salon : 4 m deep, only for snorkelers, 23 sculptures are here
There are additional 26 replica statues at the Visitor Center in the Hotel Zone (Kukulcan Mall).
The mission was to demonstrate the interaction betweeen art and science. The sculptures are made from special PH neutral marine concrete, they were created above ground and cleaned before lifting down underwater, so contain no harmful chemicals. The sculptures are lying o an area of over 420 square metres, their total weight is more than 200 tons.
The Silent Evolution - Jason's Statues
Jason, as a real artist made his sculptures special. The "Silent Evolution" is his statue collection consists of 450 figurative pieces. His statues resemble to the members of the local fishing community and each has an own character. He wanted to show how the humans take care of their environment both in positive and negative meaning . Some statues are represent the people who are interested in the nature, other faces show no shympathy.
Jason worked 18 months long on the stautes, used 120 tons of concrete, 3800 m of fiberglass and 400 kg of silicone.
The Underwater Museum is a pioneer concept. Scientists use usually old ships to make artificial reefs. The special marine concrete is a better, more natural surface for the corals and algaes. The sculptures have holes in them which provide living space for the marine wildlife. A Famous writer, Dr David De Russo says these underwater statues are important means of marine re-generation. The salt water and tidal movements can form this special material and create a perfect surface for the marine life. Other benefit is that the Underwater Museum attracts a lot of snorkelers and divers so has positive impacts for the turism as well.
Jason DeCaires Taylor has many other interesting underwater projects, if you are interested, just goggle his name and you will find them!