More than 32 feet below the surface, Jason deCaires Taylor's exhibition, "The Silent Evolution," completed phase two of the world's largest underwater museum off the coast of Mexico in Cancun. Featuring 400 life-size sculptures based on real people, the exhibit took 18 months of labor, 120 tons of cement and 400 kilograms of silicone to complete, as well as 3,800 glass fibers and more than 120 submarine work hours.
Part of the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park in Island Mujeres Punta Cana and Punta Nizuc, the museum opened the exhibit November 26, during the 16th Annual United Nations’ Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP16) and the 6th Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP16) in Cancun. Currently, the region attracts 750,000 visitors a year. This fall, the sculptures were greeted by hundreds of swarming Gray Angel fish that, until the installation of the museum, were scarce around the Manchones area. Tourism to the exhibit has been estimated at $36 million in annual revenue.
Taylor, who will also serve as the musem's artistic director, created a technique to preserve the models' original gestures and positions. The sinking process was done by placing the sculptures on a two-ton base, which will be positioned securely on rocky surfaces to prevent any damage caused by waves. The museum recommends that visitors snorkeling or diving use a tour operator with trained professionals, but anyone can swim among the exhibit for free. Alternately, visitors can opt to see the exhibit from the surface, where the pieces are positioned to look like a human eye.
The museum's first phase began November 14, 2009. Under the supervision of Taylor, three sculptures were submerged, including “Coleccionista de Sueños” (Dream Collector), “Hombre en llamas” (Man on Fire) and “La Jardinera de la Esperanza” (The Gardener of Hope). Supposed by an investment of more than $350,000 by Cancun’s Ministry of Environment and its Nautical Association, the National Marine Park worked to protect the surrounding environment. The sculptures were placed near the natural reefs that preserve the the corals and reefs. Their immersion and positioning attract coral and contribute to the development of different coral species.