Swimming with the sculpture

Cancun's underwater sculpture museum

Cancun’s underwater sculpture museum

In Cancun, you have to go underwater to tour the Museo Subacuatico de Arte, or MUSA. It’s a museum that doubles as a new kind of coral reef: a haven for fish and people both. Nature and art become one.

“It’s the story of the three dedicated – nay, heroic – people who made the place happen. There was Jaime Gonzalez, a biologist and hard-nosed bureaucrat sickened by the damaged reefs in his country; Roberto Diaz, the entrepreneurial tour operator and closet artist who knows everybody in town; and Jason Taylor, the outsider with a new idea and the talent to pull it off. In all, it was a herculean effort. But eventually permissions and a little money came through and so Taylor started working in 2006. He makes the molds using plaster on the naked body and then adds the clothing later. Walking through a new dry-land exhibit of his work, he says he can name each of his models – from the young girl to the pregnant woman to the worker he flagged down in the street who was initially confused about what exactly this odd foreigner wanted to do. Even Diaz, who’s also an amateur sculptor, got into the game and created a statue designed from a lost picture of his grandmother. Today, with 470 statues, the museum is a huge success and one of the major tourist draws to Cancun.”

The goal: 10,000 sculptures over the next ten years.

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