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Photographer Explores Underwater Sculpture Park

Curators’ corner

Photographer Explores Underwater Sculpture Park

Off the coast of bustling Cancun, Mexico lies Museo Subaquatico De Arte (MUSA), a place that seems too magical for reality.

MUSA is an underwater contemporary museum of art created in 2009 by Jaime Gonzalez Cano, Director of the National Marine Park; Roberto Diaz Abraham, then President of the Cancun Nautical Association; and sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. The sculpture park consists of 420 square meters with more than 500 life-size sculptures by deCaires Taylor, each made from materials that promote coral life and reef recovery. The artworks are permanent and fixed to the ocean floor.

London-based photographer Claudia Legge explored MUSA in February, coming away with dreamy images that illustrate the beauty of nature and mankind working in harmony. Legge, who specializes in aquatic photography, described the experience in an interview with It’s Nice That:

“It was very epic swimming around the sculptures, it’s like you’re entering this private life. It reminded me of a poem by Keats where he describes the imagined life of two figures on the side of a Grecian urn. They are frozen in time and it’s sort of tragic but also wonderful because their reality is constant and they don’t suffer the trials of human existence. That’s sort of what I felt when I was down there, it was a bit eerie, like these were real people frozen in time, and of course they actually are modelled on real people.”

Legge said the statues felt alive because of the way marine life interacts with them, and likened the site to a lost civilization like Atlantis.

“It was very tranquil, almost spiritual down there,” she said.

MUSA was designed to draw Cancun and nearby Isla Mujeres visitors off shore and allow natural reefs to rehabilitate from the crowds. With more than 750,000 tourists flocking to the area’s pristine waters each year, the installation offers an alternative site (and breathtaking one at that) for divers and snorkelers to visit so that they’re not destroying natural ecosystems. Over time, MUSA is also establishing a reef of its own as the stone sculptures become covered in coral.

Legge’s images of MUSA are absolutely stunning. Check out a few below, and visit her site to see more of her work.

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