Submerged entirely underwater, and embedded in the sandy depths of the crystalline waters that bless Mexico’s stretch of Caribbean coastlines, are the hauntingly beautiful statues of the MUSA project (Museo Subacuático de Arte, or Underwater Art Museum in English). First opened in 2009, this impressive feat of both imagination and engineering includes more than 500 life size sculptures which are accessible from three separate points in Quintana Roo; Isla Mujeres, Cancún and Punta Nizuc.
At a time in which our natural coral reefs are sadly disappearing faster than ever before, this artificial underwater attraction informs visitors about the importance of environmental sciences and the pertinent need to preserve our seas. Furthermore, it provides marine life with the perfect habitat in which to continue breeding and thriving, as each sculpture is made from specialised material adept at promoting coral growth.
Furthermore, the strategic location of MUSA is no accident; it draws would-be natural coral reef visitors away from the at risk areas, encouraging them to see this incredible yet artificial reef instead, thus promoting the survival of Quintana Roo’s existing coral reefs.
The brainchild of Jaime Gonzalez Cano of The National Marine Park, Roberto Díaz of The Cancún Association, and Jason deCaires Taylor, the vast 420 square metres of underwater art is actually formed of two separate sections (Salon Manchones and Salon Nizuc). Both are suitable for snorkelling and the former is also ideal for scuba diving.
Some of the standout pieces included in the exhibition by Jason deCaires Taylor include The Speaker, Urban Reef and The Dream Collector.
Ultimately, the most resonant message of the MUSA project is the way that art is able to both alter our way of thinking and encourage greater social consciousness, particularly in one of the most impressively biodiverse but heavily frequented stretches of coastline in the world.