Tuesday 25 July 2017

Lanzarote opens Europe’s first underwater museum - and it's stunning

Beneath the waves

Soo Kim

Museo Atlántico, an underwater museum featuring more than 300 sculptural works, has opened to the public.

The installations, by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, can be found 14 metres beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in Bahía de Las Coloradas (Coloradas Bay), on the south coast of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.

The site (see our gallery above) spans an area of 2,500 square-metres, and can be explored by scuba divers, snorkellers or from glass-bottomed boats.

The permanent works, which include a 30 metre-long, 100-tonne wall, have been created entirely with pH neutral materials designed to foster the reproduction of local fish species and create a habitat for marine life in the Unesco-designated World Biosphere Reserve.

Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote

The sculptures aim to portray “the dialogue between past and present and the divisions within society”, with some of the most notable works including The Rubicon, The Vortex and The Raft of Lampedusa, which references the influx of refugees on the Italian island.

The exhibition pays tribute to the refugees that succeed, but also those whose “dreams and hopes remain at the bottom of the sea”, Taylor told The Local.

“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 earlier this month.

The Museo Atlántico is not the first showcase of underwater artwork by Taylor. He has previously opened the MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte) in the surrounding waters of Cancun and Isla Mujeres in Mexico in 2009, as well as the Molinere Bay Underwater Sculpture Park in Grenada in the Caribbean, which was the first of its kind when it opened in 2006.

Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote

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, weighing more than 60 tonnes.

“Snorkelling around submerged sculptures is an unforgettable experience,” said travel writer Hazel Plush, who visited the Grenada installation last year.

“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 snorkellers and scuba divers some food for thought too.

Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote
Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote. Photo: Jason deCaires Taylor / CACT Lanzarote

"It's great news that Taylor's work is now a little closer to home.”

See cactlanzarote.com for more.

Telegraph.co.uk

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