Tired of going to run-of-the-mill museums on dry land? If so, you can now don your scuba gear and prepare for an afternoon of culture under the sea. The Underwater Museum of Art is the first underwater museum in the United States. Located right off the coast of Grayton Beach State Park in South Walton, Florida, the museum displays seven sculptures, including a massive octopus by Allison Wickey, the museum’s creator. Wickey was inspired to propose the project after watching the creation of artificial reefs.
Although Wickey didn’t expect much support for her idea for the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton Country, it turns out that the response was highly enthusiastic. Now, the museum joins the ranks of the Museo Subacuático de Arte in Cancun, and Europe’s first underwater museum, the Museo Atlántico Lanzarote. Wickey hopes the exhibit will call attention to the importance of preserving the Gulf of Mexico.
The South Walton Artificial Reef Association set specific rules to present the museum from damaging the seascape. Andy McAlexander, the association’s board president, told CNN Travel that the museum creators were given parameters for “what’s permissible, material-wise, size-wise for the sculptors to design and create their reefs so they would be in compliance with the permits.” His team also ensured that none of the sculptures were made of plastics or contained pollutants.
McAlexander added that, “it’s been wildly inspirational for me personally to be a part of something that’s touched so many people.”
If you’re a qualified diver and don’t mind plunging down to the ocean floor, the museum is free of entry.