By Rosemary McClure
10:30 AM EDT, September 25, 2013
The Cancun Underwater Museum, which gives divers and snorkelers to the Mexican resort area a chance to see artworks below sea level, has added a visitor center that showcases replicas of the museum’s most popular underwater sculptures.
The underwater museum, founded in 2009, is one of the largest in the world. Divers and snorkelers can see 500 artworks, including 11 new sculptures that were added earlier this month by Jason deCaires Taylor.
The visitor center will showcase replicas of the facility’s most popular underwater sculptures.
The museum was created to help preserve the region’s natural coral reefs; artworks double as a home for fish and other underwater organisms and also draw visitors away from Cancun’s delicate natural reefs.
Among the submerged works are many life-size human sculptures cast from Cancun locals. There is also a VW Beetle that was especially designed so lobsters could make their home inside the vehicle.
Each statue is made with materials that are safe for marine life and encourage the formation of a coral reef, according to artist deCaires Taylor. He says his newest pieces “use a form of stainless steel framework and rely on live planted corals to form the narrative and structure of the works.”
Marine life is slowly moving into the museum, bringing life to “The Silent Evolution,” his original underwater gallery, he says.
Tourism officials say the museum is one of Cancun’s most popular attractions, drawing an average of 87,000 guests annually, according to Jesus Almaguer, chief executive of the Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The addition of the visitors center will provide tourists a way to enhance their diving experience and to truly appreciate the artistic and ecological impact the museum has,” Almaguer said.
Cancun, in southeastern Mexico on the Caribbean side, is the nation's No. 1 tourist destination and is known for its beaches and turquoise waters.
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