Discover a whole new world at Australia’s first underwater museum
Life on land is feeling pretty overwhelming right about now so consider this your official invitation to dive deep and live out your mermaid dreams whilst exploring the newest exhibition at Museum of Underwater Art (MoUA). From August 1, Coral Greenhouse is officially open to visitors giving recreational divers and snorkelers the first peek at the colossal installation. Weighing in at more than 58 tonnes, Coral Greenhouse is the first-ever underwater building created by world-famous underwater sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor as a means to open debate about our relationship to our seas and highlight the importance of conserving them.
For those who are a little late to the party, let’s just back it up for a quick minute. The Museum of Underwater Art (MoUA) is a permanent museum that showcases fully and partially submerged works across four unique sites along the Queensland coast – from Townsville all the way up to John Brewer Reef. The museum redefines the notion of ‘art’ by providing visitors with a unique and thought-provoking encounter with the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, offering a platform to share the stories of the reef, and the culture of its First Nations people. The first installation, unveiled last year, is called Ocean Siren and is a 15-foot sculpture perched off the coast of Townsville. The sculpture is viewable from The Strand jetty and is modelled on a young Indigenous woman, a Wulgurukaba traditional owner named Takoda Johnson. The piece is not just a pretty light display – rather the installation is underpinned by a series of temperature loggers installed around the surrounding waters that feed data to the sculpture in real time, causing its colours to fluctuate in response to the ocean’s changing temperatures. It’s a powerful visual reminder of the very real effects of global warming.
The second piece, Coral Greenhouse, is located approximately 80 km from Townsville (approximately two hours by boat) and was designed to look and operate like an actual greenhouse – but instead of growing plants and trees, it’s filled with more than 2,000 coral fragments and features 20 sculptures or ‘reef guardians’ made from non-toxic marine-grade cement. The structure is envisaged as living artwork that will be constantly evolving to help propagate coral and generate a thriving new ecosystem whilst shining a light on the importance of reef rehabilitation. This is the first time the installation is available to view by members of the public through MoUA’s approved commercial tour operators – Adrenalin Dive Townsville, SeaLink Queensland, Pro Dive Magnetic Island, Yongala Dive Burdekin and Orpheus Island Resort. There are currently another two installations under construction on Magnetic Island and Palm Island – so stay tuned, folks.
Image 1–6 credit: Matt Curnock
Image 7 credit: Jason deCairesTaylor