Selecciona Edición
Entra en EL PAÍS
Conéctate ¿No estás registrado? Crea tu cuenta Suscríbete
Selecciona Edición
Tamaño letra

Lanzarote opens Europe’s first underwater museum

By next year, around 300 sculptures will be installed on the seabed of the Canarian island

Some of the underwater sculptures created by Jason deCaires Taylor.
Some of the underwater sculptures created by Jason deCaires Taylor.

A new museum is opening its doors this month on the Canarian island of Lanzarote.

But visitors wanting to see the collection of sculptures created by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor will first have to don a wetsuit and then dive 14 meters down to the seabed of Coloradas Bay, just off the coast of the town of Yaiza, in the southwest of the island.

“My sculptures are a way to bring people into contact with the sea, as well as to make them more aware of the dangers our oceans face”

Jason deCaires Taylor

“My sculptures are a way to bring people into contact with the sea, for them to learn about the flora and fauna living there, as well as to make them more aware of the dangers our oceans face,” says Taylor. “At the same time as the figures tell a story, they help to protect the seabed,” he adds, pointing out that the materials he has used are not harmful to their environment: “We want to help coral and other species to grow, which can help repopulate the marine biomass.”

This isn’t Taylor’s first sub-aquatic venture. Around 500 of his pieces are already lying offshore in the warm waters off the coast of Cancún, on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

About Verne

In past times, explorers, adventurers and writers scoured the Earth seeking out the wonders of the world. Today, we have the internet. VERNE: a thousand marvels a minute. Click here for more Verne stories in English, and here for the Spanish page.

When the local authorities in Lanzarote heard about Taylor’s work, they invited him to take part in the island’s biennial arts festival.

“As we knew it wasn’t impossible, we did it,” says José Juan Lorenzo, head of Lanzarote’s arts, culture and tourism department, which is responsible for running the museum.

“Taylor is a pioneer, an innovator,” says Lorenzo, highlighting Lanzarote’s long-standing support for the arts, best known via the work of local artist Cesar Manrique. “Lanzarote, thanks to the work of Cesar Manrique, has a long tradition of land art. The seabed here is as beautiful as the land, and so an initiative that highlights its importance, its fragility, its beauty, seemed perfect to us.”

Along with his family, Taylor has spent the last two years on Lanzarote preparing the seabed for the installation. While waiting for the paperwork, he has created images in his workshop there such as The Lampedusa Raft, a homage to refugees who flee their countries by sea.

1. “People who have visited our museum in the Caribbean say it was a unique experience, almost archeological,” says Taylor. “You are aware that you’re observing something that will last for generations.”
1. “People who have visited our museum in the Caribbean say it was a unique experience, almost archeological,” says Taylor. “You are aware that you’re observing something that will last for generations.”
2. The first phase of the project includes 60 sculptures. But when complete in 2017, there will be a total of 300 works spread out over 10 installations.
2. The first phase of the project includes 60 sculptures. But when complete in 2017, there will be a total of 300 works spread out over 10 installations.
3. Playa Blanca, the area where the museum is located, is close to one of Lanzarote’s most important natural areas, El Papagayo. “It’s no accident,” says Taylor. “We want to help protected species, which has meant encouraging tourism in other areas to avoid massification. We’ve also created a marine botanical garden in the area.”
3. Playa Blanca, the area where the museum is located, is close to one of Lanzarote’s most important natural areas, El Papagayo. “It’s no accident,” says Taylor. “We want to help protected species, which has meant encouraging tourism in other areas to avoid massification. We’ve also created a marine botanical garden in the area.”
4. “The scuba instructors who accompany visitors have been given some artistic training so they can serve as guides,” says José Juan Lorenzo. “The tour needs to be supervised, safe and to respect the creative essence of Taylor’s work. The sculptures tell a story, and the guides need to know about it to communicate it correctly.”
4. “The scuba instructors who accompany visitors have been given some artistic training so they can serve as guides,” says José Juan Lorenzo. “The tour needs to be supervised, safe and to respect the creative essence of Taylor’s work. The sculptures tell a story, and the guides need to know about it to communicate it correctly.”
5. Taylor created the world’s first underwater park, located on the west coast of the Caribbean island of Grenada, which the ‘National Geographic’ describes as one of the 25 Wonders of the World.
5. Taylor created the world’s first underwater park, located on the west coast of the Caribbean island of Grenada, which the ‘National Geographic’ describes as one of the 25 Wonders of the World.
6. The Lanzarote collection can only be visited between November and February, depending on the weather. It is expected to be completed by January 2017.
6. The Lanzarote collection can only be visited between November and February, depending on the weather. It is expected to be completed by January 2017.
7. “We are going to give two percent of the revenue created by the museum to protecting Lanzarote’s marine environment,” says Lorenzo.
7. “We are going to give two percent of the revenue created by the museum to protecting Lanzarote’s marine environment,” says Lorenzo.