The museum game has been relatively stagnant for the past few centuries, featuring the same stale, aboveground, labyrinthine hallways with artifacts behind glass cases. But now, the museum experience is being turned on its head with the opening of underwater museums around the world, such as the new Sculpture Coralarium in the Maldives.
Conceived of by environmental artist Jason deCaires Taylor, The Sculpture Coralarium is the world’s first semi-submerged tidal gallery, and it’s located in the middle of the Maldives’ largest coral lagoon at the Fairmont Sirru Fen Fushi island resort. The gallery is mainly underwater, and guests are invited to snorkel and swim through the installations. It features human-like sculptures built with marine-safe materials, and the experience is designed to promote coral growth and facilitate the expansion of the marine habitat over time.
The museum took approximately five months to construct, beginning with a long swimming pool that transects the beach and leading to a submerged coral-lined pathway. A five- to 10-minute swim will bring visitors to an underwater staircase, connecting to a cube-like, six-meter-tall building with stainless steel walls — marine life can pass easily and safely through the walls’ coral-inspired, laser-cut openings. Several human-like sculptures, made using casts of the local population, can also be found on the roof of the structure.
Overall, the underwater museum is meant to raise awareness of climate change and promote an eco-conscious future. “The installation aims to draw all the elements of life on earth together, to portray a system where all components are dependent on each other.” Part of the underwater installation includes a series of children looking up at the sea’s surface, which is meant to cause visitors to stop and consider the threat of climate change, and the consequences of our actions for future generations.”