Art museums are located all over the world, which welcome thousands of tourists every single day. 

Post the COVID-19 lockdown, Australia is set to unveil one of its best creations to the public – Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA), situated in Queensland’s city of Townsville. 

There are four projects that make up the MOUA. One of those has already been installed alongside Townsville’s iconic Strand Jetty.

A statue that changes colour with the sea water

Townsville is a popular city on the coast of Queensland as it houses the world’s largest coral reef system, Great Barrier Reef. One of the famous spots in Townsville is the Strand Jetty where the locals and tourists flock to hang out near the waterfront, which extends to about 1.5 miles, comprising several cafes, ice-cream parlours and the Strand Water Park. 

After you reach the end of the waterfront, you’ll spot a glittering statue on the ocean surface. ‘Ocean Siren,’ a statue modelled after 12-year-old Takoda Johnson, who is a member of the local Wulgurukaba people, one of two traditional owners of the local land. (Wulgurukaba are the first people to have lived in Townsville.)

The glorious ‘Ocean Siren’ in Townsville © MOUA Instagram

The vision of having the statue in the middle of the ocean is to create awareness about reef and ocean conservation as reports have suggested that the ocean temperatures have been rapidly rising and that’s not good for the environment. The ‘Ocean Siren’ reacts to live water temperature data from the Davies Reef weather station on the Great Barrier Reef and changes colour according to live variations in water temperature.

Artwork 60 feet under the sea

While the MOUA is not the world’s first-ever underwater museum, this project—headed by sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor— is sure going to be different. The second project of MOUA is the ‘Coral Greenhouse’ that has been installed in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, about two hours from Townsville by boat. 

The site at John Brewer Reed was chosen for its clear visibility, natural coral walls and sandy flat base. Within the installation’s 40-foot-long skeletal structure, which was designed to disperse the ocean’s strong undercurrents, are 20 statues of students working with coral.

“When we talk about reefs, we’re very much talking about what we’re leaving for younger generations. I also wanted to encourage more youth into marine science and into exploring and understanding the underwater world. Plus, I wanted the local communities — school students, especially — to become ambassadors for the reef, almost like guardians with a keen interest in how it evolves,” Taylor told CNBC. 

While very few pristine reefs are left across the globe, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the most unique of the lot as it is still in a terrific condition showcasing some of the best corals you’ll find on this planet. 

A To And Fro Ticket To Orbit: When Planet Earth saw first tourist travel to outer space

“Adam Smith from @reefecologic and MOUA Deputy Chair visited John Brewer Reef. He is pleased to report the abundance of fish species and healthy coral,” the official account of MOUA wrote on Instagram earlier this month. 

What next? 

The installation was completed in December 2019 and it was reportedly scheduled to open in April, but due to restrictions caused by COVID-19 in Queensland, the opening date has been postponed. After the MOUA opens to the public, it could be a massive boost for tourism in Australia in the coming years. The tour operators could be prepared to take several divers and snorkelers 60 feet under the sea to the museum. 

The remaining two installations of the MOUA are not expected to complete until the end of 2021, one at Queensland’s Palm Island and other at Magnetic Island.