Underwater sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor’s Museum of Underwater Sculpture Ayia Napa (MUSAN) has been officially inaugurated. The new museum, which comprises more than 93 works, is situated off the tourist resort of Ayia Napa, at the southeastern tip of Cyprus, and at just 200 metres from the beach, can be accessed by snorkellers and freedivers as well as scuba divers. The project was almost four years in the making due to delays caused by the pandemic.
The museum is a sculptural forest consisting of “hybrid trees” and other art works—such as children playing hide-and-seek in the woods—placed at different depths. As with all of deCaires Taylor’s projects, MUSAN is designed to create a vast artificial reef to attract fish life, but also to raise awareness about the depletion of marine biomass—in this case, in the Mediterranean Sea.
Check out the news release below, and see more images of the installation and how it was put together on deCaires Taylor’s website.
Museum of underwater sculpture Ayia Napa, Cyprus
MUSAN is an underwater forest, the first of its kind in the world. Consisting of over 93 artworks some of which are in the form of hybrid trees, others which are figurative in nature.
The artworks, in particular those which represent trees, are designed to attract marine life on a large scale and as such will develop organically. These installations are placed at various depths from the sea floor to its surface and laid out to resemble a path through a dense underwater forest. Some of the tree forms will float just beneath the surface so that the whole structure provides a complex environment for marine life at all levels of the water column.
Marine life in the Mediterranean Sea has been seriously depleted over the last 20 years. The area in which the new museum is sited consists of a flat channel of sand, 8-10m deep, within a marine protected area. The sculptural forest made from inert pH neutral materials aims to replicate a terrestrial forest by becoming focal point for biodiversity. Placed 200m from the Pernera beach in crystal clear water it is accessible to scuba divers, free divers and snorkellers.
Among the sculpted trees children can be seen playing. They remind us of our need for the natural world as a place to explore, discover and fire our imaginations. Over the last 50 years children have become more excluded from the wild places that once existed. The forest children, camera in hand as they play hide-and-seek in the woods, point their lenses at the human race. They hope for a future in which the mystery and magic of nature will return. The need to re-wild our oceans is as pressing as the need to re-establish our connection to the natural world.
The new museum was commissioned by the Municipality of Ayia Napa in Cyprus and the department of fisheries and marine research.
All of de Caires Taylor’s works are part of an eco-art movement in which the artwork interacts with its surroundings and evolves in unpredictable ways. There is no final product, but an ever-changing seascape. Eventually the work of nature will supplant the work of the artist. The sculpted trees and the children that play amongst them will be consumed and colonised by marine biomass, providing food and shelter for a variety of creatures but importably reminding us that we are natural ourselves.
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