Underwater art installations are all the rage right now. Europe’s first and only underwater museum made waves when it opened off the coast of Lanzarote—a Spanish island—in January, and America’s first underwater museum followed suit, opening to divers in Florida in late June.
Now, the Maldives—a true pioneer in underwater entertainment—has its own semi-submerged art gallery, according to My Modern Met. Dubbed the Coralarium, the new art installation has found a home at the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi, a luxury resort located in the Shaviyani Atoll.
The sculptures, designed by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, double as a habitat for marine life. Each atoll in the Maldives is unique for the types of creatures you'll see there, whether it’s whale sharks or sea turtles. In the Shaviyani Atoll, divers and snorkelers are most likely to spot eagle and marble rays, schools of batfish, and guitar sharks. And unlike the underwater museum in Florida, which is designed for divers, the Coralarium can be enjoyed with just a snorkel and goggles in tow. Don’t be surprised if you end up feeling like more of an attraction than a spectator, though.
“It's almost like an inverse zoo,” deCaires Taylor says in video. “So in cities, we go into space and we look at caged animals. Whereas this is almost like we’re the tourists, but we’re in the cage and the marine life can come and go and look at us.”
The sculptures, which took nine months to complete, were created using casts of real people, including Maldivian citizens. The cage forming the walls and ceiling of the Coralarium is made of pH-neutral stainless steel, and it’s designed to reflect the blue hues surrounding it.
The Coralarium, which is being billed as the world’s first intertidal museum, looks different depending on the water level on any given day. The sculptures’ heads may be peeking above the waterline one day and fully submerged the next. Visitors swim out to the Coralarium from the beach with a guide, who will provide some context for the artworks and surrounding marine life.
Keep scrolling to see some more photos of the Coralarium.
[h/t My Modern Met]