Sea Sculptures of the Underwater Museum

Around the world are a few unusual sculpture museums. In order to gain entry to the museums, you must first put on your swimming gear and grab a snorkel or dive tank. This is because the museums are under the sea.

Art Works or Artificial Reefs?

The creator of the underwater museums, Jason de Caires Taylor, designs his sculptures with the intention of forming artificial reefs for sea life. The statues are made with PH neutral casting cement, which means that they will not poison the water or the fish, and will not degrade quickly in sea water. Taylor places his underwater museums in areas where reefs have been destroyed by storms, creating new homes for corals, fish and other sea life.
The statues of Taylor's underwater museums serve two purposes; to attract tourists and art lovers to the area and to create a home for fish, sea weed and other reef life. Many of the sculptures have holes drilled into the cement, creating nooks and crannies for fish and crustaceans to create a home for themselves. Over time, the statues get covered with sea weed and molluscs. Taylor has recorded this "evolution" of his artworks with photographs, enjoying the fact that although he may be finished with the artwork, nature continues to add its own art works to the statues.

Jason de Caires Taylor's "Vicissitudes" in Grenada, West Indies. This sculptural art work shows a group of people standing in a circle holding hands. The figures face outwards, creating the impression that they are protecting something within the circle. The underwater statues are life-sized, having been made from body casts of living people. 

A swimmer discovers one of Talor's underwater sculptures in Grenada and blows a kiss at the sleeping faces. The beauty of these art works is that the experience of discovery is different for each person. Because the statues are evolving and becoming part of the reef, whatone person sees today might be very different from what someone else might see next month.

These three photos show, from left, a mustachioed man from Cancun in Mexico, who was the model for the underwater sculpture shown in the middle photograph. The photograph on the right shows the statue a few years after it was placed underwater. It is covered in seaweed and providing an excellent home for reef life. The man who posed for the statue doesn't look very happy, but the ocean fish and plants who now live on his statue are probably very happy.

These are Taylor's cement statues on dry land, waiting to be placed into the sea, where they will live forever more. When posed like this, the groupps of statues begin to resemble a coral reef. Taylor's underwater museum is so far one of the most unique reef conservation methods that man has attempted. It combines human ingenuity with human creativity.

A Sculptured Society Living Under the Sea
The underwater museum in Cancun, Mexico was created in 2009 when Taylor installed several life size statues near the Manchones reef. There are now over 450 submerged sculptures in the region. These underwater statues are based on regular people living in and around Cancun, Mexico. The figures are sculpted to show them doing day-to-day activities such as riding a bicycle or watching TV. The underwater statues have a surreal nature about them; they seem to be average people frozen for eternity below the sea, standing silently as they are visited by tourists and art enthusiasts.

"Anthropocene" in Cancun, Mexico. This large sculpture shows a man curled up on the hood of a VW Beetle, a car that has been popular all over the world for decades. The sculpture has several holes drilled into the windows that allows fish to enter the hollow interior of the car sculpture. The reef was partially destroyed by storms, so the sculptures were created as a place for fish and other sea creatures to live.

"Inertia" in Punta Nizuc, Mexico. This sculptural piece depicts a man watching TV with a burger and fries. Like the VW sculpture, the TV set has holes drilled into it, which allow the fish to enter the hollow interior of the sculpture, where they are protected from storms and predators.
Crowds of statues like this make excellent artificial reefs, attracting fish and plant life that make the art works their homes. This picture was taken shortly after the statues were installed, before the seaweed and limpets start to add their own creative touch to the art. These underwater museums are also attractive to tourists, who travel great distances to be able to swim among the statues.

Over time, coral begins to grow over the statues, transforming the underwater sculptures into living art works. These natural art works are constantly changing over time as the reef continues to absorb the statues, making them part of the natural environment.
Each statue gets its own natural decoration as the reef grows over it. The different types of corals, sponges and sea weeds add patterns and textures to these living art works.

Taylor's underwater museums are a truly beautiful combination of art and conservation. The artificial reefs made of human statues give people an inspiring experience while offering natural reef life a safe home. Visit Taylor's website for more information on his underwater museums.