A typical trip to a museum doesn’t usually require scuba diving gear, but this is not ordinary museum. Australia’s Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) is an underwater sculpture park that is right in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Townsville, Queensland. It is the very first artificial reef in the Southern Hemisphere.
Jason deClaires Taylor, the artist who was responsible for underwater museums in Mexico and Lanzarote, worked closely with James Cook University as well as the Australian Institute of Marine Science in order to create a sculpture park that emphasizes the importance of reef conservation and restoration. By blending art with science, this is made possible, and hopefully it can help draw tourists in as well.
In the sculpture park, guests will be able to visit a sunken “coral greenhouse” and “reef guardian” sculptures that pose in different reef-protecting activities. These include a sculpture that is gazing through a microscope toe on that is resting on a bench by the garden.
The greenhouse is Taylor’s first underwater building and is also the museum’s largest installation. It is nestled about 60 feet deep and it 40 feet long and weights about 58 tons! It is anchored down to the seabed with strength that is able to withstand a category 4 cyclone.
The best part of the sculptures is that in addition to being artistic, they’re meant to propagate new coral in order to help generation a new marine ecosystem. They were installed before the coral spawning season, and as they’re made of marine nurseries embedded inside the pH neutral marine cement, coral larvae can easily latch on. Scientists are using underwater camera technology to monitor oxygen, salinity, and pH levels. This is how they’ll also keep track whether this can help with creating more new coral habitats.
Local culture was also taken into consideration in order to honor and preserve the cultures of the Manbarra and Wulgurukaba Traditional Owners, so that each of the sculptures is actually based on someone from the local Indiginous community.
If you are ever visiting the area, consider getting yourself into some scuba attire and visiting this one of a kind attraction.