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The Cancun Underwater Museum of Art (Museo Subacuático de Arte, known as MUSA) is a museum of underwater sculptures based in Mexico that opened in 2010 and is devoted to the art of conservation.
The museum boasts almost 500 sculptures, most of which have been created by sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. The remaining pieces were created by five Mexican sculptors. There are two different galleries, both of them submerged between two and ten meters deep.
The idea was thought up by Jaime Gonzalez Canto (Marine Park Director) along with sculptors Roberto Diaz Abraham and Jason deCaires Taylor. They came up with the idea to save the coral reefs by providing another attraction for divers.
How to Experience MUSA
There are a few options through which adventurers can experience the Underwater Museum of Art, including two different galleries, both with recommended ways to experience the sculptures.
The gallery at Punta Nizuc is located off the Southern end of Cancun’s hotel zone. It is not recommended for scuba diving tours, as it is only four feet deep. Snorkeling is a great option though, as it is fun and educational for both children and adults! Explore marine life while learning how important these statues are in protecting the coral reef areas. This tour begins at Nichupté Lagoon and continues to the ocean, where you will be prepared for your adventure on a snorkeling platform.
The Jungle Tour is also an exciting way to see this naturalized gallery. On this tour, you can drive your own boat through the canals of the Nichupté Lagoon along with the helpful instruction of your bilingual guide. Combine this tour with a snorkeling excursion to make the most out of the experience! Water, refreshments, beer, and equipment are included with all tours.
A glass bottom boat is a great way to get a view of the Underwater Museum of Art without getting wet and is great for people of all ages. You will get to see the reef at Punta Nizuc and parts of the Great Mayan Reef, which is the second largest in the world. Admire the schools of tropical fish and other marine life that swim beneath you from your comfortable seat in a glass bottom boat. This tour is 45-minutes long and travels through the Nichupté Lagoon into the ocean.
The other underwater gallery is located in Manchones, off the coast of Isla Mujeres, and ranges from eight to ten meters deep. Due to its depth, scuba diving is the preferred mode of viewing the sculptures. There are many different diving trips you can take at Manchones, whether you have never been on a dive before, or if you are a certified diver. Tours also depart from either Cancun or Isla Mujeres, so you can book the one that is most convenient for you.
Transportation to the Gallery
If you are staying at a resort, there are plenty of transportation options for you. A ferry ride will be the easiest mode of transportation as the gallery is in between Isla Mujeres and Cancun. You may choose to rent a car and park it at the ferry dock, or your tour provider may include a pick up from where you are staying. You can board the ferry from Puerto Juarez, Punta Sam, the Cancun Hotel Zone, and Gran Puerto Cancun.
What You’ll See There
The sculptures reflect themes ranging from capitalism to holistic living. Sculptures such as ‘The Silent Evolution’ have an eerie feel to them; almost 500 life-size sculptures standing all together in a perfectly aligned crowd to represent a world in which everyone lives harmoniously.
Another sculpture entitled, ‘Understanding’ showcases a group of people meditating around a sculpture in the middle of them. They seem like they are searching for enlightenment in the watery depths.
‘The Anchors’ shows men standing, looking up at you as you swim by, seemingly waiting for an answer. Seaweed and other algae have grown around them to partially conceal their bodies, also making them appear trapped. There are also houses and cars in the gallery, again hinting at themes of capitalism.
Lastly, a work called, ‘The Banker’ features many men with briefcases with their head stuck in the sand, perhaps an expression of being overwhelmed by society. All of these statues mentioned have been designed and sculpted by Jason deCaires Taylor.
The best part about the Underwater Museum of Art is that you can derive your own meaning from all of these sculptures as you boat, snorkel, or scuba dive past them. You will feel as though you are a part of another world down in these depths, and it may even provide you with a moment of clarity and understanding about something in your life you have been looking for.
The next time you visit Cancun, come to experience the wonderful watery world of the Cancun Underwater Museum of Art, you’ll be so glad you did!