I stumbled across The Museo Subacuatico de Arte (otherwise known as the Cancun Underwater Museum) while wishing I was in the water diving. This is an underwater museum with no walls, guides or descriptive plaques. I think it is an interesting way to view art without all the pretentiousness or stuffiness that museums can sometimes bring with them. I could probably talk Rich into going to this museum with me which is always a plus!
This unique installation of sculptures by artist Jason deCaires Taylor was designed not only to encourage appreciation of the arts, but also to draw traffic away from nearby natural reefs, which were starting to bear the strain of 750,000 visitors a year. It was created a couple of years ago and the thought wasd that it would have 200 statues. Instead they expanded the project to be 400 in the end. To date they are at about 350 with the VW bug exhibit just being added. Its third phase on July 16 will begin with the installation of 63 new sculptures, which are designed to become home to coral and other marine creatures.
The project founded by Jaime Gonzalez Cano of The National Marine Park, Roberto Diaz of The Cancun Nautical Association and Jason deCaires Taylor consists of over 450 permanent life-size sculptures and is one of the largest and most ambitious underwater artificial art attractions in the world. You will find women artfully posing in thought and even a huge VW beetle that has cubbies and holes for marine animals inside.
The museum comprises more than 400 original sculptures, which also serve as artificial reefs. Many are of human figures, making the ocean floor resemble some beautifully spooky lost world, its inhabitants frozen in space and time.
The newest phase of the museum includes the museum’s first kinetic sculpture, “Phoenix,” the figure of a woman with movable wings of living purple gorgonian fan coral that appear to beat with the wave cycles. “The Listener,” a human form assembled entirely from casts of human ears molded during a workshop of local Cancun 8- to 12-year-olds, is equipped with an underwater listening device that projects the sounds of the reef.
The artist’s philosophy is telegraphed harshly in “The Last Supper,” a dining table carved from a rock outcropping. Half-eaten fish suppers lie on both plates, and the centerpiece consists of apples and hand grenades, illustrating the peril oceans face because of over-fishing.
MUSA is divided into two galleries, one of which is accessible to both divers and snorkelers, the others to snorkelers only. The National Marine Park of Isla Mujeres, Punta Cancun and Punta Nizuc is located in the northern part of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The island of Cancun is in the shape of a “7” and is bordered to the north by the Bahia de Mujeres; to the east by the Caribbean Sea; and to the west by the Nichupte Lagoon. Cancun is Mexico’s largest tourist destination. The sculptures are located within the boundaries of The National Marine Park on sandy areas of substrate close to Isla Mujeres, Punta Cancun and Punta Nizuc.
So, how are they doing this?
- The sculptures have been made from a special type of cement which is 10 times harder than the normal kind and has a neutral PH, which is favorable to corals.
- The statues are reinforced by rigid fiberglass with similar properties to rock so they remain in place.
- Anchored to the rocky sea bed 10 metres below the surface using a special drill, fused together and weighing over 120 tons in total, it is hoped the new reef can even weather out hurricanes and storms that regularly hit the area.
I think this is a marvelous and ingenius way to improve the current economic conditions there. While many people may have always thought of Cancun as too toursity, myself included, I would consider taking a trip to see this beauty. I think there is a weird, kinda creepiness down below with the statues of people and would be very excited at the prospect if this could be dove at night, can you imagine? Perfect for a thriller movie!