The Coral Greenhouse, Museum of Underwater Art opens off Townsville

The works of sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor grace ocean beds from Cancun to Norway in underwater museums and sculpture parks designed to highlight ecosystems and the importance of conservation.

Now, one of his submerged sculptures is ready to be explored off Townsville at John Brewer Reef.

The 72 square metre, 165 tonne skeletal Coral Greenhouse has eight human figures "inside", depicting scientists, conservationists and coral gardeners. Scuba divers are able to rest and view the artworks and snorkellers will be able to look down over the museum that sits at a depth of 17 metres but is visible from the surface. The greenhouse is made from pH neutral environmental-grade cement and is anchored to the seabed.

There are three main entrance points to the Greenhouse and its inhabitants, while outside it are 25 sculptures include a cheese plant, flat leaf eucalyptus and a sitting child.

deCaires Taylor says the Coral Greenhouse sculpture brings into focus diverse fields of study - marine science, coral gardening, underwater and environmental art and architecture - and with it a starting point for greater understanding of the Great Barrier Reef and its ecology.

"The internal spaces of the greenhouse are populated with a series of figurative sculptures cast from children from local and international schools. The children study and tend to planted coral cuttings. Thus they are tending to their future, building a different relationship with our marine world, one which recognises it as precious, fragile, and in need of protection," he says.

The design of the greenhouse is biomorphic, ie its form determined by the forces of nature. As the Greenhouse is slowly colonised and built upon by the reef, it will be gradually absorbed into its surroundings.

The reef is 74 kilometres offshore from Townsville in a sheltered lagoon area surrounded by coral reefs where snorkellers and divers mingle with parrot fish, Maori wrasse and clown and angel fish among many others.


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Two more underwater museums are planned for Palm and Magnetic Islands to be finished by 2021.

Day trips cost from $274 a person. See

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