World renowned underwater sculpture artist, Jason deCaires Taylor, commissioned to design and build the Southern Hemisphere’s first Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) in Townsville, has been in the region over the last week conducting research for the project.
The artist, hosted by the MOUA Board, has held community consultations on Magnetic Island and Palm Island, met with local businesses, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville City Council, Palm Island Shire Council, and Perc Tucker Gallery, and toured the proposed sites at The Strand, Magnetic Island, Palm Island and John Brewer Reef. Meetings with traditional owners, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and Umbrella Studio will also take place across the week.
The first sculpture will be an intertidal piece on The Strand, installed in the first quarter of 2019, with the second piece to be installed at John Brewer Reef.
The Museum of Underwater Art has the potential to further extend the region’s existing educational, reef and tourism offerings, and provide a significant economic boost to the regional economy, anticipated to attract 50,000 additional visitors upon completion, with an estimated economic impact of $42 million each year.
The project has received a $2 million State Government grant on top of $800,000 raised through corporate partnerships with Sealink, Morris Foundation, Billabong Sanctuary, Gleeson Family, Pacific Marine and Port of Townsville. The MOUA Board is currently seeking an additional $5 million towards the project.
The world’s first underwater sculpture park, created by Jason off the coast of Grenada in 2006, is now listed by National Geographic as one of the Top 25 Wonders of the World. The Museo Subacuático de Arte off the coast of Cancun, Mexico, which Jason created in 2009, resulted in an increase of annual visitor numbers of almost 400,000.