Art You Can Dive Right Into: The Underwater Sculpture Museum
You probably thought you’d immersed yourself in art before, on long days of museum touring and gallery-hopping. But have you ever been surrounded on all sides by life-sized sculptures? Oh, and did we mention you’re underwater? Part permanent art-installation, part interactive aquarium, Cancun’s newest attraction is sure to become one of its most memorable. Dive into the Underwater Sculpture Museum.
Located in the waters surrounding Cancun, the Underwater Sculpture Museum project was founded by Jaime Gonzalez Cano of The National Marine Park, Roberto Diaz of The Cancun Nautical Association and artist and creator Jason deCaires Taylor. Opening in November 2010, the museum will consist of over 400 permanent life-size sculptures on the ocean floor, becoming one of the largest and most ambitious underwater artificial attractions in the world. The site was inaugurated in November 2009 with the placement of 3 sculptures: La Jardinera de la Esperanza (The Gardener of Hope), El Coleccionista de los Sueños Perdidos (The Archive of Lost Dreams) and Hombre en Llamas (Man on Fire). The Museum aims to mix art and environmental science to form a complex reef structure for marine life to colonize and inhabit. Each sculpture is made from specialized materials used to promote coral life, and the look of each piece will constantly evolve as new marine organisms take residence on them. Grab your snorkel gear and view it from above, or dive in for a scuba swim with the sculptures.
Experiencing art underwater is unlike any exhibit you’ll find on land. Objects appear twenty five percent larger underwater, and consequently appear closer. Colors shift and change as light is absorbed and reflected at different rates. Your light source, the sunlight from above, becomes mottled and temporal due to currents and turbulence. Rather than just stroll through an exhibit, your whole body is part of the movement, and diving to the ocean floor allows you to view a sculpture from all angles.
Artist Jason deCaires Taylor is an expert in underwater art installation. Previous works include Vicissitudes in Grenada, West Indies and Alluvia in Canterbury, Kent, UK. The ocean floor is his canvas, and his seascapes are unexpected and ever changing. By providing new homes for native marine life, Taylor’s work takes into account both art and the environment, promoting healthy a ecology. The next phase for the National Marine Park is the installation of Taylor’s La Evolución Silenciosa (The Silent Evolution). 400 life-sized works form a timeline of the changes in humans over the past centuries, both visually and socially. The individual sculptures are casts taken from local and international individuals that represent different ages, generations, social stages and both genders of people, starting with traditional Mayan and moving to our modern society. Viewers will be able to pass along this visual timeline snorkeling, diving, or in a glass-bottomed boat or submarine.
The National Marine Park of Isla Mujeres, Punta Cancun and Punta Nizuc is one of the most visited stretches of water in the world, with over 750,000 visitors each year. The sculptures sunk to the sandy bottom here aim to draw visitors to a stunning, new artificial reef and away from the natural reefs. Frequent tourism of the natural reefs places immense pressure on the resources there, and the popularity of the museum should give the native wildlife a bit of breathing room to recover.
The Underwater Sculpture Museum will officially open at the end of November 2010 in time for the World Climate Summit, December 4-5th in Cancun, Mexico. Click for more information about Jason deCaires Taylor and the Underwater Sculpture Museum.