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, representatives from 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), Umbrella Studio will also take place across the week.
Museum of Underwater Art Board Chair and SeaLink General manager, Paul Victory said it’s been a productive week with the artist in the region.
“We’ve been looking forward to Jason returning to Townsville North Queensland to progress this incredibly significant project in our region,” said Mr Victory.
“The Museum of Underwater Art will create a new avenue for visitors to experience the Great Barrier Reef, while also providing opportunities for the community to be a part of the reef preservation research and science undertaken in Townsville.”
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.
Museum artist, Jason deCaires Taylor said he is very excited to be heading up such a pioneering project.
“It really is a unique opportunity to work with some of world's leading marine scientists, a talented local community and alongside arguably one of the greatest reefs in the world,” said deCaires Taylor.
"This project presents a rare opportunity to combine reef conservation, pioneering marine science with education, culture and a strong economic model to promote tourism of the region.”
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.
Townsville Enterprise CEO, Patricia O’Callaghan said the project seamlessly connects the region’s profile as a global leader in marine sciences and as a tourism destination.
“The Museum of Underwater Art has the potential to further extend Townsville North Queensland’s existing educational, reef and tourism offerings,” said Ms O’Callaghan.
“As a Southern Hemisphere first, the Museum of Underwater Art will also provide a significant economic boost to our region, anticipated to attract an additional 50,000 visitors annually upon completion, with an estimated economic impact of $42M each year.
“We very much welcomed the State Government’s 2017 Election commitment towards this project and enabling the artist to commence work on the first intertidal installation in Townsville, due for completion in the first quarter of 2019.”
The project has received a $2 million State Government grant on top of $850,000 raised through corporate partnerships with SeaLink, Morris Foundation, Billabong Sanctuary, Queensland Airports, Gleeson Family, Pacific Marine and Port of Townsville. The MOUA Board is currently seeking an additional $5 million towards the project.