The only way to see this incredible museum in Mexico is by scuba diving

The Museo Subacuático de Arte, located off the coast of Isla Mujeres in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, is the world’s largest underwater museum.

Composed of over 500 life-sized sculptures, MUSA offers incredible sculptures hidden 28 feet below the ocean’s surface. That means that the only way it can be explored is by diving or snorkelling.

Underwater museum‘The Silent Evolution’ is a display with 450 statues.

The project began in 2009 as an effort to protect the endangered Mesoamerican Reef (the second-largest barrier reef in the world) by diverting divers and snorkelers to MUSA.

Roberto Díaz Abraham, one of the founders of the museum, describes it as an “art of conservation.” Each sculpture holds special nooks and crannies that help to support the breeding of marine life while providing a safe habitat.

Six artists helped to compose the works found in MUSA:
Jason deCaires Taylor, Roberto Díaz Abraham, Salvador Quiroz Ennis,
Rodrigo Quiñones Reyes, Karen Salinas
Martínez and Enrique Mireles,
but a large portion of the works are by Taylor.

Taylor models his sculptures after local residents from his nearby fishing town of Puerto Morelos and covers them with a marine-grade cement consisting of a PH neutral surface that promotes coral growth. He allows the plaster to dry before removing it and filling in the remainder of the sculptures.

Since they’re made with this marine-grade cement, the statues have become covered in algae and coral to make for a stunning sight.

Underwater museum Jason deCaires TaylorOver time, the marine-grade cement allows for coral growth.

Some of Taylor’s works are a satirical commentary on humanity. He created “The Banker”, a series of men in business suits submerging their heads in sand, after attending a climate change conference in Cancun.

“It represents the loud acknowledgment made about the issue, but when it comes to taking action nobody wants to stick their neck out and do something about it,” Taylor said about the work.

Underwater museum Jason deCaires TaylorOne of the statues in ‘The Banker’ series.

Some of his works symbolise the growth of new life. “The Resurrection” was created using coral fans that had broken off during a thunderstorm in Cancun.

Underwater museum Aquaworld‘The Resurrection’ is one of two pieces from Taylor made using damaged coral fragments.

You’ll also find statues of people you might recognise. “The Anchors” is moulded from the heads of Today Show anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, and Natalie Morales, and NBC News correspondent Kerry Sanders.

Underwater museum Aquaworld‘The Anchors’ was created as part of a Today Show story on MUSA.

But what’s most fascinating is that each of his works is built to aid in the protection and understanding of marine life.”The Ear” is a work installed with a hydrophone and hard drive. It allows researchers to study marine life via audio.

Underwater museum 1Jason deCaires Taylor‘The Ear’ sculpture was composed from the ear moldings of 30 children.

“Anthropocene,” or the Volkswagen, is made specifically for lobsters. Taylor created the piece after fisherman wiped out about 50 lobsters previously living in his “Silent Evolution” display. The car has holes to allow the shellfish to enter the sculpture, and inside it is stacked with shelving units where the creatures like to sleep.

Underwater museum Jason deCaires Taylor‘Anthropocene,’ or the Volkswagen.

MUSA offers an exploration into a world that’s remained a mystery.

“Two-thirds of our world is water, but there’s so much in that incredible world that’s still unknown,” said Taylor.

There are two different exhibits within the museum: Salon Manchones, which holds 475 sculptures and is 8m (27 ft.) deep and Salon Nizuc, which offers a shallow snorkelling area about 4m (13 ft.) deep and a semi-submersible boat as an alternative to diving.

At Nizuc, you’ll also find an outdoor exhibit with 26 statues.

Underwater museum Jason deCaires TaylorThe Nizuc outdoor exhibit.

MUSA is open year-round for public viewing, but because the diving site is protected as a conservation area, you’ll need to sign up with one of the museum’s selected tour guides to access the sight. Tickets cost about $US60 for a two-hour tour.

If you can’t make it there in person, here’s some footage to mentally transport you to the stunning sight.

NOW WATCH: Beautiful drone video of epic trip across South America

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