Location: Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico
Installation Date: 2009
M.U.S.A. (Museo Subacuático de Arte) is one of the largest and most ambitious underwater art attractions in the world. Located near the island of Isla Mujeres and the coast of Punta Nizuc in Cancún, the museum features over 500 permanent life-size sculptures created by Jason deCaires Taylor.
The museum is divided into two galleries. Salon Machones is eight metres deep and suitable for both divers and snorkelers. Salon Nizuc is four metres deep and only permitted for snorkelling.
Cancún Marine Park is one of the most visited stretches of water in the world. It receives over 750,000 visitors a year, which places immense pressure on its natural resources. Visitors to the marine park now divide their time between the museum and the natural reef, providing significant rest for natural overstressed areas.
Over 90 fishermen and women were cast for M.U.S.A., creating a movement of people in defence of the sea. The sculptures are made from long-lasting pH neutral cement that provides a stable and permanent platform to encourage coral growth. They are positioned downstream from natural reefs so after spawning there are areas for coral to settle.
In total, the installations occupy an area of over 420 square metres of previously barren seabed. Today the museum forms a complex reef structure for marine life to colonise, inhabit and increase biomass on a grand scale.
Celebrated works include The Silent Evolution, a 120 tonne work of more than 400 individual statues. Taylor immortalised about 90 real-life models from the nearby fishing village of Puerto Morelos to create a community of people, standing in defence of their oceans. The man-made reef is now home to more than 2,000 juvenile corals.
Reclamation sees an angel with her back arched, her face and hands lifted towards the heavens as if in divine reverence. Her wings are formed of gorgonian sea fans rescued from the seabed after storm damage.
The Bankers are a symbol of how little we look to the future and how we are focused on short-term gain. Each sculpture is in prayer position to show that monetary items have replaced his god. Each Banker has a cavity between his buttocks for marine life to inhabit. Crustaceans and eels make this space their home.
Anthropocene is a cast of a VW Beetle with a mourning child on the windshield. The piece asks what we are leaving to future generations. The nine-tonne sculpture is also specially designed to create a habitat for crustaceans such as lobsters and its thick concrete walls prevent them from being extracted by local fisherman’s hooked barbs.
Commissioned by: The National Marine Park and The Cancún Nautical Association
Materials: Stainless steel, pH neutral cement, basalt and aggragates
It is named a museum for a simple reason. Every day we dredge, pollute and overfish our oceans, while museums are places of preservation, of conservation, and of education. They are places where we keep objects that have great value to us. Our oceans are sacred.Jason deCaires Taylor