Underwater Museum in Mexico Offers Hope for Natural Coral Reefs
The Archive of Lost Dreams by Jason deCaires Taylor
Cancun’s got a new museum. But to view its installations, you’ll have to snorkel, dive, or ride a glass-bottomed boat. That’s because the museum is on the ocean bottom near Mexico’s National Marine Park of Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc. Apparently, underwater is the new place to be. (Remember the below-the-surface meeting the Maldives government held last October to make a statement about climate change?)
During the latter part of 2009 and much of 2010, artist Jason deCaires Taylor will cover this seabed with
hundreds of life-size statues, art that Taylor and his partners from the National Marine Park and the Cancun Nautical Association hope will eventually form a reef structure for marine life to colonize.
Taylor plans to make each piece from cement, sand, micro silica and fiber glass—a combo said to promote coral life—and place the installation over 1,600 square feet (about 150 square meters). An area so large will intentionally draw the more than 750,000 annual visitors away from the Marine Park’s heavily strained natural reefs, giving them a chance to
survive and regenerate.
The installation’s inauguration happened last November when three of Taylor’s pieces hit ocean bottom: The Gardener of Hope (La Jardinera de la Esperanza), The Archive of Lost Dreams (Coleccionista de los Suenos), and Man on Fire (Hombre en Llamas). Phase two is happening now, with an exhibition Taylor calls The
Silent Evolution, a set of sculptures cast from real people from local and international communities. The last of the three-parter includes commissioning artists from all over the world to contribute installations and host events.
For Taylor, it’s about recognizing the importance of nature. “With the advance of technology and the built environment, we seem to have lost our intrinsic link to nature,” he writes in the installation description. “The manifestation of living organisms cohabitating and ingrained in our being is intended to remind us of our close dependency on nature and the respect we should afford it.”