Located 200 metres off the coast of Ayia Napa in a resort town in southeastern Cyprus is a museum that beats all other museums you may have visited so far — simply because of its location. Submerged underwater, it is the first of its kind in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Museum of Underwater Sculpture Ayia Napa (MUSAN) opened to the public in August 2021 with 93 sculptures by artist Jason DeCaires Taylor. The museum is aimed to resemble an underwater forest, and the installation explores the relationship between man and nature while spreading a poignant message about climate crisis and the need for immediate action to save marine life.
The museum took a hefty $1.1 million to bring to life and is a joint collaboration between the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research, the Ayia Napa municipality, and the Ministry of Tourism.
The sculptures, which were lowered underwater using a crane, have been made with inert pH neutral materials that attract marine life, meaning that each sculpture will, in time, be covered in marine biomass, accentuating its artistic appeal even further.
Βίντεο από τα εγκαίνια του υποβρύχιου μουσείου Αγίας Νάπας MUSAN, δημιουργία του παγκοσμίου φήμης καλλιτέχνη Jason deCaires Taylor. #musanayianapa #musancyprus #underwaterforest #visitcyprus #ayianapa pic.twitter.com/vx3qXd1VND
— MUSAN Museum of Underwater Sculpture Ayia Napa (@MusanAyiaNapa) August 1, 2021
“The creative objective is to create a seamless link between the land and the ocean, combining two disparate wonders, one created by man and one designed by nature. To develop a portal to the underwater realm that offers visitors ephemeral encounters with the natural beauty beneath the water’s surface, delivering an otherworldly experience that illustrates the connectivity of man with nature, a hybrid organic form in harmony with its surroundings,” reads Musan’s website.
About the installation, the website states: “A collection of submarine figurative sculptures dispersed amongst a series of sculpted organic trees and subterranean plants will create the world’s first underwater forest. A symbol to enhance the story of Ayia Napa’s newly created Marine Protected Zone, whilst acknowledging the deforestation practices of the past.”
Some of the sculptures include huge trees with some elements floating on the surface of the water, whimsical characters, and children playing with cameras.
The museum’s physical entry point is on the Pernara beach with a pathway that leads to a floating platform from which people can descent down to the submerged sculptures.
While the museum is free to visit, it can only be accessed via registered dive centers on the local beach. Snorkelers are also welcome to visit. You can find more information on musan.com.cy/en/home.