Coralarium: Ocean’s First Intertidal Art Museum Doubles as Marine Habitat

A new first-of-its-kind underwater art museum in the Maldives features exhibits and sculptures at various levels, from the seabed through the intertidal waterline and up to the skyline, designed to be exposed and submerged to different degrees.

More than just an aesthetic endeavor, however, the project by environmental artist Jason Decaires Taylor is engineered to support the regrowth of endangered coral populations and other local marine wildlife. It’s the island’s first regeneration project, addressing a real need while also raising regional awareness.

The outer shell is a permeable, stainless steel structure, with some above-water sculptures placed on top. Below, divers can visit works made of marine-grade cement that will, over time, become covered as sealife attaches to it.

Visitors will be able to follow a path from the shore along which they can explore local sea life in the shallows before reaching the museum, a symbolic journey from land to low water and into the deep beyond.

The intentionally porous frame of the main museum building allows in even large fish, while also providing a tidal break to help shelter any creatures who choose to take up residence (or simply find temporary refuge) within.

Marine steel mirrors and mimics surrounding sea blues, and will ultimately also reflect the greens of the natural algae bound to accumulate as this seed structure naturally changes and grows in response to its environment.