Museo Atlantico. The first underwater art museum in Europe. And like most of the museums, there is a story that is told here. A really interesting one. Join us as we explored the world, fourteen meters down with Bob from Dive College.
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Discover Museo Atlantico in several ways
So, there are several ways for you to discover the Museo Atlantico (even if we want to point out that there is only one great way to discover it). The Museum Atlantico is part of CACT Lanzarote and there are just a few dive centers that are allowed to take divers to this place. One of them is the Dive College and those are the ones that we chose for our experience. We recommend them wholeheartedly because they were great!
As I said, there are several different ways to visit the Museo Atlantico. I am torn when it comes to the different ways. Apart of me feels that it is great that the museum is available for everyone but at the same time I feel that people that are not divers might be disappointed. So, I will just lay it all out for you and then it is up to you to decide what you think about the different options.
Museo Atlantico for certified divers
This is the best way to explore the museum. You go with a guide, in our case Bob (that has the best reviews for his briefings about this place). You get all the information that you need and then you have a great dive and just enjoy this place.
Museo Atlantico for non-certified divers
Dive College offers dives of the museum for non-divers too. You pay about 150 euros and for that, you will get a “test dive” and then dive at the museum. If for some reason, you don’t like the test dive, you don’t have to pay for the museum and the dive there. This is a great way for inexperienced divers to still get to enjoy the Museo Atlantico. However, I am not sure how great of an experience it will actually be. I think that the dive itself might be “overpowering” enough that you won’t be able to enjoy the actual museum.
I mean, there are a lot of things that you need to think about and that might take all the focus from the sculptures. Buoyancy, air supply, mask, fins and all of that might ruin for you to enjoy the Museo Atlantico. If I was not a certified diver, I think that I would still go for this option to be able to see the sculpture park. But at the same time, I don’t think that I would have enjoyed it as much if I was not used to diving.
Snorkeling at the Museo Atlantico
This is also an option and the worst one according to me. Dive College does have daily trips that will take you to the museum and let you snorkel there. But before they take you, they will also give you the information that you will not see a lot of the statues. Remember that the statues are about 12-14 meters down and the visibility changes from day to day. So either you will see some sort of contours of statues or at worst, you won’t see anything from the Museo Atlantico.
If you are a freediver and can go deep with just the air in your lungs, you might be able to enjoy this place!
What is the Museo Atlantico
It is a project made by artist Jason decayers Taylor. He is the one that also made the underwater sculpture park in Mexico amongst others. The whole sculpture park in Lanzarote is made to function as an underwater reef and is at the same time telling an amazing and very important story of how humans are destroying our planet.
It was finished in 2016 and is a great success for tourism on the island. Being so unique, there are a lot of people that want to experience this place. The Museo Atlantico is on the bottom of the ocean is about 50 x 50 meters in size and there are 10 different groups of statues. There are an entrance and an exit which makes this place even more special and feeling like a museum for real, even if it’s on the bottom of the sea. Sure there is marine life here but don’t go here to see the fish. Go here to see the statues and see how the plants and sea life is taking over the sculptures in a beautiful way.
Dive through a story about humanity and our problems
Before the dive, you will get a thorough briefing about the story of this museum. In our case, Bob at the Dive College gave us a great briefing. However, I do believe that the more you have read about this place and the meaning behind the statues, the more value you will get from the dive. No, I don’t mean that you need to study before going diving but it can be nice to have heard the story about the groups of statues in advance.
I have made a summary with the help of a brochure that we got and with the help from Bob and I hope that this information really triggers you to want to go diving the Museo Atlantico.
A group of children is in small boats made out of brass that is called Jolateros. The boats are used for fishing, racing and having fun. This group of statues is showing us what a great place the sea actually is. All the water that they drink on Lanzarote, comes from the sea. All the seafood that they eat on the island also comes from the sea. The sea is very important and yet we pollute it every day. The meaning is that we have to change so that we can still enjoy the sea forever.
This sculpture is molded from a local fisherman. In fact (and what makes this so much more awesome, is that all the statues are actual people from Lanzarote. This sculpture shows you how a traditional funeral pyre looks like. Because let’s face it, we are on a volcanic island – good luck getting a shovel in the dirt and digging a grave. The sea cremations were a tradition before and that is what this sculpture is showing. But most importantly – it shows us how the sea plays a part in our lives even after we are gone.
The raft of Lampedusa
A big boat was shipwrecked outside of the town “El Golfo”. It was filled with people from Africa that were fleeing from starvation and poverty. They all died and today it still looks the same. People are risking their lives, fleeing from war, poverty, and starvation – hoping to get a better life. Many people are crossing the sea and into the city of Lampedusa. Lampedusa has become synonymous with the word “hope”.
While diving, look at the formation of people on the boat. The man in the front is strong and he will make it. He will survive this trip. But once you see the people in the back of the boat, you can see that they will not make it.
This installation is one of my favorites. It is of a couple, taking a selfie. They are looking into the camera and not seeing what is behind them. Behind them is the raft of Lampedusa. People are dying but they can’t see that because they are focusing on themselves. Here the artist is saying that “we do not face our problems or the problems of the world. We are disconnected from them”.
To make it even stronger, the selfie-taking couple is faceless. This was super powerful and it really got me thinking about the problems that are facing the world and that we are not addressing. This sculpture says it all!
A Surprise for you
Before you get to the next installation of statues, there is one here that is not shown on any map. This is a surprise and we will not be spoiling what it is. Let me just tell you that there is a big chance that you will laugh when you see it!
This work of art consists of 35 figures. They are all walking towards a wall and a door under the sea. It is a monument to the absurd, a dysfunctional barrier. Because let’s face it, you can get through the wall since it is in the water. You can swim over it or go around it. There is no reason for the wall being there and the wall also represents the damage that we do to our planet. This is the biggest installation of them all and it shows you how pointless the damage that we do to our planet is.
In front of the wall, there are a lot of people that are heading for the wall (of no return). They need to stop and start doing things differently so that we don’t destroy our planet.
This is a place where the artist is merging nature and humanity while referring to the rich vegetation of Lanzarote. The statues are half-human and half cactus in different formations and shapes. This is to show how important plants are for humanity. We get oxygen and food from plants and trees. Yet every day, we are cutting them down and destroying the planet.
The plants are now fighting back by evolving into new shapes like humans. This is to protect themselves.
This is an installation of a young female, looking at a large mirror. Well, it used to be a mirror but it has been destroyed by the sea so now you can only see small parts of the mirror. We were supposed to be able to see ourselves while swimming over it.
This is the installation of a playground. But instead of children, there are businessmen in suits playing. The message behind these sculptures is that government allow big business to profit from damaging the earth. They put money before sustainability and today before tomorrow.
One statue is a man in a suit. He is the CEO of a big company and he has two children, a house and he also has a big mortgage on the house. He has to make money to be able to keep this lifestyle up. At the same time, he wants to help the environment but he needs to keep his job. This is illustrated with a noose around his neck. This is really powerful to see!
Next to the man with the noose is another CEO. He doesn’t care about the environment so he is just playing. This was also one of my absolute favorite installations. And there are more statues to see here.
This sculpture has the meaning that photographers pose a debate in the permanent recording of images in societies. We need to change!
The last installation and also a powerful one. It consists of 200 life-sized bodies that create a circular formation. They are all dead! This is the future that we face if we don’t change. And with that powerful message – the dive is over!
Museo Atlantico is powerful
The aim of this place is to give back to the sea. The fish understand that this was made for them and they are often there. During our dive, we got to see some fish but that is not why you want to go there. If you want to see fish, you can just do a regular dive with Dive College. If you get to see some cool fishes – see it as a bonus but go here to explore the museum and to see the statues. Since there are only 14 people allowed at the dive site at a given time, you don’t need to worry about this place being crowded.
It takes about 15 minutes by boat to get to the dive site and the dive takes about 35 minutes. When you get to the museum, you go down holding a line. And make sure to check your buoyancy before you hit the ground. If you stir up sand, you will ruin the visibility so make sure to get buoyant at the top of the entry sign.
Our dive at the Museo Atlantico
We have been diving at some pretty amazing locations over the years, like the Maldives, Thailand, and Mexico. This means that we know what a good dive is! This was one of our best dives. Not for sea life and the fish that we saw. No, this was incredible because of the sculptures and the story that they tell. It was powerful to a point that I can’t explain – you will have to go there and try it out for yourself.
My niece Natalie, that just turned 13 is going to try diving. If she likes it we will make sure that she can get certified and then we will take her diving at the Museo Atlantico. This place is awesome! And the staff at Dive College are the perfect people to take you there so that you can enjoy your dive!
Information about Museo Atlantico
Address: Oficina de información del Museo Atlántico frente al Castillo del Águila, Calle Castillo del Águila, 35580 Playa Blanca, Lanzarote.
Address to Dive College: C/C La Mulata, Calle Lanzarote 1, 35580 Playa Blanca, Lanzarote.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 09:00 – 17:00.
Price: About 60 euros for divers. 12 euros is the entrance fee to the museum.