Europe’s first underwater museum in Lanzarote


Museo Atlantico

Divers are in for a treat with the opening of Europe's first underwater museum off Spain's Lanzarote island. The underwater wonder is called Museo Atlántico, featuring more than 300 sculptural works by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor.

Museo Atlántico may be the first museum of its kind in Europe but it's not the first one on tattoo. This project had previously seen the day of light - from the bottom of the ocean - on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in Mexico.
The Cancún Underwater Museum (Museo Subacuático de Arte, known as MUSA) was thought up by Marine Park Director Jaime Gonazalez Canto, with the help of the sculptor Jason DeCaires Taylor whose sculptures also feature in Spain's museum. The project was carried out by a non-profit organization devoted to the art of conservation.
After two years in the making, Spain's underwater museum opened its waters to snorkelers and divers interested in admiring enigmatic human figures submerged at depths of between 12 and 15 meters on the seafloor of Las Coloradas Bay - a UNESCO's Biosphere Reserve.
Apart from offering visitors a delightful activity, the sculptures have a sea life conservation purpose: the figures will help to form part of an artificial reef, acting as a breeding site for local species.
“The whole idea was for it to become a portal to another world,” says DeCaires Taylor, the artist who created the underwater sculptures for this museum and the ones in the Bahamas, Grenada, West Indies, Mexico and the Antilles.
In 2014, Mr Taylor's Ocean Atlas piece in the waters of New Providence in Nassau, Bahamas, became the largest single sculpture ever to be installed underwater. The masterpiece weighed more than 60 tons.
The artist depicts everyday life scenes with his sculptures and uses his work to raise awareness of oceanic issues, which is why he works with environmentally friendly concrete. Taylor created the statues with a special eco-friendly concrete that doesn't affect the marine eco-system but fosters coral life by attracting plants and animals and acting as a breeding site for local species.
“I want it to inspire people to understand more about our oceans and the threats facing it,” DeCaires Taylor said.
These everyday scenes are all too familiar. Some of the statues represent current local residents, recreating scenes from their everyday life. The sculptures include one titled “Content” that displays a couple taking a sub-aquatic selfie, while another titled “The Rubicon” involves 35 human figures walking beneath the waves.
“I hope that the Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote represents an entry point to a different world and promotes a better understanding of our precious marine environment and of how much we depend on it,” Taylor said at the museum's opening.
You can go on a diving tour from various locations on Lanzarote from €46.
There is plenty to view as the museum occupies an area of 50x50 meters.
“Snorkeling around submerged sculptures is an unforgettable experience,” said Telegraph Travel writer Hazel Plush, who visited the Grenada installation.
“Taylor has an uncanny ability to capture the human likeness, and seeing these figures trapped forever on the bottom of the ocean was a surprisingly emotional experience. This isn't just a gimmick - every piece is in harmony with its surroundings, and designed to attract marine life while giving snorkelers and scuba divers some food for thought too. It's great news that Taylor's work is now a little closer to home.”


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