In the clear, blue water about 30 minutes from Cancun, divers and snorkelers can visit the Cancun Underwater Museum of Art. British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor brought Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA) to life with his pieces, and installations now feature other artists as well. The museum lies within the Cancun National Marine Park, which includes Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Punta Nizuc.
Visiting the Cancun Underwater Museum
The installation, which features just over 500 sculptures — by deCaires Taylor and five Mexican artists — opened in 2010 with an installation called The Silent Evolution.
Aside from offering divers a unique experience, the museum also functions as an artificial reef. In fact, it was originally conceived to relieve pressure on local reefs. The artist used pH-neutral concrete to create the sculptures, which encourage coral growth and thus attract marine life.
MUSA has two galleries, the Salon Manchones and Salon Nizuc. Salon Manchones is best for divers, with sculptures sitting between 26 and 33 feet (8 to 10 m), while Salon Nizuc is best for snorkeling, with sculptures sitting at 6.5 to 13 feet (2 to 4 m)
deCaires Taylor based the sculptures on local people from Puerto Morelos, and each one of the sculpted men, women, and children has unique expressions and features. Each sculpture or group of sculptures also has a different meaning and name that depicts a specific theme, such as Man on Fire, Dream Collector, Anthropocene, and The Banker. One of the more famous exhibitions in this area — although better suited to snorkeling than diving — is Vicissitude — an installation that depicts a group of people looking up at the sky while holding hands.
Since the installation in 2009, coral growth has covered the statues, and they continue to attract schools of fish, turtles, rays, and other marine life. Eventually, it is hoped that the sculptures themselves will become unrecognizable as they are covered in so much life.
MUSA is an excellent dive site for novice and more experienced divers. Divers must, however, carefully interact with the space to promote its conservation.
When to go
Cancun and nearby Cozumel are popular dive destinations that offer around 300 good diving days a year. The dry season — also the high season — falls between November and April. The hurricane season is between June and October, but storms can arrive as late as December.
Water temperatures range from 73 F (23 C) in the winter to around 84 F (29 C) in the summer. MUSA offers very shallow diving — so lots of bottom time — and little to no current. Average visibility is around 65 feet (20 m).
The Cancun Underwater Museum of Art offers interesting dives that you will want to add to your logbook. The warm, clear water offers excellent diving conditions and a unique chance to take some time out and revel in the art.