At the risk of coming across as an uncultured rube, I will state that I am not a very big fan of museums. (In fact, I seem to recall reading an op-ed in which the author referred to museums as “libraries without the party atmosphere,” a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly concurred.) Yet when I learned, upon returning from a scuba diving trip to Mexico in 2010, that an underwater museum had recently opened there, I was kicking myself for not knowing about it sooner. This was uncharacteristic in a number of ways, but I resolved to go back there one day solely to visit this museum.
MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte) is located off the coast of Cancun, where I happily traveled this past spring. I honestly had no idea what to expect, because beyond being fascinated by the novelty of the concept – a museum! Underwater! – I didn’t really do all that much research into the exhibits themselves.
The sculptures are evidently made from specialized materials that are meant to help promote coral life, so after a while, they’re covered with sponges, coral, and algae, but the basic outline of the sculptures are so far still recognizable. I imagine that the dichotomy between the natural sea life and freshly implanted sculptures must be rather jarring, but in yet another case of less than impeccable timing, I just missed a new installation.
Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I don’t think I’ve appreciated a museum excursion this much since I was very young, because in most children’s museums, the exhibits are intentionally interactive. A regular art museum strikes me as somewhat static – here’s the art, look but don’t touch. This is true of MUSA as well, in that touching anything underwater is strongly discouraged, but the fact that it’s underwater means I am diving. Ergo, by default, I’m already doing something I love.
Want to know which museum is my favorite in the world? …Well, that’s not a very hard question to answer.
Contributed by: Leiba Rimler, Judaica Cataloging Librarian, Technical Services