A new unique diving experience is available in Europe this summer as a display using 400 life-like sculptures has been created off the coast of Lanzarote. The Atlantic’s first undersea sculpture museum, Museo Atlantico, was conceived in 2009 and is aiming to attract visitors away for the area’s natural reefs to discover this new man made underwater creation.
The striking museum is the latest in a succession of water installations by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. He created the first underwater sculpture park in 2006 off the coast of Grenada, which is now listed among National Geographic’s 25 Wonders of the World. In 2009 he went on to co-found Museo Subacuático de Arte off the coast of Cancún in Mexico, which has a collection of more than 500 of his underwater works. Last year he created the The Rising Tide in the River Thames in London.
As well as their artistic beauty the sculptures have also been designed to attract sea life and encourage the growth of coral. The new sculptures are created using a pH-neutral marine cement and also have a textured surface to encourage coral growth.
Taylor hopes that showing people the coral interacting with realistic human forms will help people take the decline of coral reefs, considered to be one of the biggest threats to the world’s oceans, more seriously.
“Humans only have empathy when they see something of themselves,” he told press. “I intentionally made [the figures] very everyday; they all have clothes on — it’s us.”
Lanzarote has also announced that 2% of the revenues generated from the museum will be donated to the research and protection of the island’s sealife.
As well as its eco qualities the sculptures have been designed to make visitors consider other current moral issues.
One of the more haunting pieces is The Raft of Lampedusa — which shows a lifeboat with 13 refugees on board. The piece is a reflection on Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa.
Taylor commented: “Drawing parallels between the abandonment suffered by sailors in this shipwreck scene and the current refugee crisis, the work is not intended as a tribute or memorial to the many lives lost but as a stark reminder of the collective responsibility of our now global community.”
The first stage of Museo Atlantico opened earlier this month (March 4) and dive companies have been invited to learn how to take tours of the museum. The sculptures are 15 metres under the surface of the sea so are best explored this way. However, from the summer snorkelling trips will also be run to allow visitors to float above the sculptures.
If you are interested in uncovering underwater treasures don’t miss our guide to the best ruins to dive in the Mediterranean.