Comprised of over 500 life-size sculptures, MUSA offers incredible sculptures hidden 28 feet below the ocean's surface. That means the only way it can be explored is by diving or snorkelling.
"The Silent Evolution" is an exhibition with 450 statues.
The project began in 2009 as an effort to protect the endangered Mesoamerican Reef (the second largest barrier reef in the world) by diverting snorkelers and snorkelers to MUSA.
Roberto Díaz Abraham, one of the founders of the museum, describes it as a “conservation art”. Each sculpture has special nooks and crannies that help support the reproduction of marine life while providing a safe habitat.
Six artists helped compose the works found in MUSA: Jason deCaires Taylor, Roberto Díaz Abraham, Salvador Quiroz Ennis, Rodrigo Quiñones Reyes, Karen Salinas Martínez and Enrique Mireles, but a large part of the works are by Taylor.
Taylor models his sculptures after the local residents of his nearby fishing village of Puerto Morelos and covers them with a marine-grade cement consisting of a PH-neutral surface that promotes coral growth. He allows the plaster to dry before removing it and filling in the rest of the sculptures.
Since they are made from this marine grade cement, the statues have been covered in seaweed and coral to create a stunning sight.
Over time, marine grade cement allows coral growth.
Some of Taylor's works are a satirical comment on humanity. He created "The Banker," a series of men in business suits dunking their heads in the sand after attending a climate change conference in Cancun.
“It represents the strong recognition that has been made about the problem, but when it comes to taking action, nobody wants to take a chance and do something about it,” Taylor said of the work.
One of the statues from the “The Banker” series.
Some of his works symbolize the growth of a new life. “La Resurrección” was created using coral fans that had broken loose during a thunderstorm in Cancun.
“The Resurrection” is one of two Taylor pieces made with damaged coral fragments.
You will also find statues of people you might recognize. “The Anchors” is modeled after the heads of Today Show hosts Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Natalie Morales, and NBC News correspondent Kerry Sanders.
“The Anchors” was created as part of a Today Show story on MUSA.
But the most fascinating thing is that each of his works is built to help protect and understand marine life. "La Oreja" is a work installed with a hydrophone and a hard drive. It allows researchers to study marine life through audio.
The sculpture "La Oreja" was composed from the earmuffs of 30 children.
The “Anthropocene”, or the Volkswagen, is made specifically for lobsters. Taylor created the piece after a fisherman killed about 50 formerly living lobsters in his "Silent Evolution" exhibit. The cart has holes to allow shellfish to enter the sculpture, and inside it is lined with shelves where the creatures like to sleep.
“Anthropocene”, or the Volkswagen.
MUSA offers an exploration of a world that remains a mystery.
“Two-thirds of our world is water, but there is so much in that incredible world that is still unknown,” Taylor said.
There are two different exhibits inside the museum: the Manchones Hall, which has 475 sculptures and is 8 m (27 ft) deep and the Nizuc Hall, which offers a shallow snorkeling area about 4 m (13 ft) deep and a semi-submersible boat as an alternative to diving.
In Nizuc, you will also find an open-air display with 26 statues.
The Nizuc outdoor exhibition.
MUSA is open year-round to the public, but because the dive site is protected as a conservation area, you'll need to register with one of the museum's select tour guides to access the view. Tickets are around $60 for a two-hour tour.
If you can't get there in person, here are some images to transport you in your mind to the stunning sight.