The Cancun Underwater Museum has unveiled a variety of new sculptures and added a visitor center, highlighting the form and function of this unique art installation. The museum was created to help fortify and preserve the region’s natural coral reefs, which are among the world’s largest. Here, divers and snorkelers can view more than 500 sculptures created by artist Jason deCaires Taylor, who began the project by submerging only four sculptures in 2009.
“The underwater museum is one of the largest in the world,” writes the Los Angeles Times. “Artworks double as a home for fish and other underwater organisms and also draw visitors away from Cancun’s delicate natural reefs.”
The visitor center showcases replicas of the museum’s most popular sculptures and also includes a wealth of fascinating information about how eco-sculptor deCaires Taylor created the installation. Submerged works include a wide variety of life-size human forms, many of which were cast from Cancun locals, along with a number of more whimsical creations, such as a VW Beetle designed to be an ideal home for local lobsters.
Located along Mexico’s only Caribbean coast,Cancun and the surrounding region known as the Riviera Maya remains the country’s most popular destination among international vacationers and expats. Tourism officials claim the museum has quickly become one of the area’s most popular attractions, averaging almost 90,000 visitors each year.
Since its creation five years ago, marine life has slowly moved into the museum in what deCaires Taylor calls “The Silent Evolution” of his original underwater masterpiece. Each sculpture is crafted using materials that are safe for sea creatures of all kinds and will actually encourage the formation of a new coral reef over time. The museum’s newest pieces, added in late 2013, were created using a type of stainless steel framework that relies on live planted corals to “form the narrative and structure of the works,” according to the artist.
“The addition of the visitors center will provide tourists a way to enhance their diving experience and to truly appreciate the artistic and ecological impact the museum has,” shared Jesus Almaguer, CEO of the Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Have you ever been to Cancun or visited an underwater museum? Share your experiences with other readers in the comments below.