Yes, London has plenty of lovely museums, but we don’t have a Museum of Underwater Art (yet).
Although Australia’s borders are still closed to Brits, it’s clear that restrictions will be loosened at some point. And when that does occur, we’re going to be heading straight to Australia’s newest world-class attraction, the Museum of Underwater Art, or MOUA for short. Because this place is truly special… [Featured image: @drift.woody]
What is the Museum of Underwater Art?
The Museum Of Underwater Art is found in Townsville, Queensland, and is a sculpture museum where the artworks are underwater or out at sea. It is the third of its kind in the world – the others are in Cancun, Mexico and Lanzarote, Spain, which is perhaps a more convenient option to visit – and the first in the Southern Hemisphere. Subsequently, MOUA brings to visitors a new way of experiencing and connecting with the coastal and marine wonderlands.
Located within The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, MOUA’s underwater sculptures not only create new habitats for marine life (in the same way shipwrecks become new homes for fish and other creatures), but it also establishes and fosters links between the science of marine ecology and the art, culture and storied-worlds of the local people, namely the Manbarra and Wulgurukaba People.
More than anything else, MOUA is about highlighting the need for ”reef conservation, restoration and education on a global scale.” And we think that that’s a pretty important job this decade.
Stage one of MOUA has been completed and consists of two pieces.
The first is Ocean Siren; although it is above water, its 202 LED lights use data collected from the Australian Institute of Marine Science weather station on Davies Reef to reflect what is going on beneath the surface, most notably the rising sea temperatures. Modeled after 12-year old Takoda Johnson, a member of the local Wulgurukaba people, the 16-foot tall sculpture can be viewed by anyone walking along The Strand.
The second is Coral Greenhouse, located 80 kilometres off of the coast on John Brewers Reef. It is the largest underwater structure built by artist Jason DeCaires Taylor, measuring nine metres in length and weighing in at 58 tonnes. It is also filled with 20 ‘reef guardian’ sculptures and kitted out with all the necessary equipment to monitor water salinity, pH and oxygen levels, as well as underwater cameras to capture the development of the corals. (The structure has only been on the seafloor for a relatively short time but it is already taking on a life of its own.)
Stages two and three have been proposed for sites at nearby Palm Island and Magnetic Island, and both stages are expected to be completed by December 2021.
The man behind the art
Jason DeCaires Taylor is the man responsible for the creation of Queensland’s Museum of Underwater Art, along with the Cancun and Lanzarote sites and numerous other underwater sculptures around the world. His intention with his works is to use them in order to engage communities and bring about positive change. His sculptures, located in areas outside of most people’s daily life, allow visitors the opportunity to experience samples of worlds beyond their own in a safe and non-destructive manner.
He says of his underwater museums that they ”are places of preservation, conservation and education. They’re places where we keep objects of great value to us, where we value them simply for being themselves.”
How To See MOUA
While Ocean Siren can be seen from land, Coral Greenhouse is best observed from, well, under the water. To get there, you’ll need a boat, equipment to help you breathe, and a tour guide. To see MOUA’s tour operators, go to their website. Currently, there are only two operators running tours; however, a few more operators are due to begin running excursions shortly. Naturally, you’ll need to wait until Australia reopens its border to UK citizens first, but it’s worth adding this to your bucket list today!