Museum of Underwater Art on Great Barrier Reef

Divers to start visiting new North Queensland attraction.

A unique new destination on the Great Barrier Reef is set to accept its first visitors.

The Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) is a four-stage project which will see submerged sculptures installed off the North Queensland coast.

The first two pieces, Coral Greenhouse and Ocean Siren, are in place with the other two planned for installation at Palm Island, 45km east of Ingham, and Magnetic Island, off Townsville.

The sculptures are the work of British marine sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor.

Museum of Underwater Art

Ocean Siren is the only piece that won’t be submerged and is a statue depicting a young Indigenous girl looking out to sea. The sculpture, visible from Townsville’s Strand, changes colour based on the water temperature at Davies Reef weather station, about 100km to the north-east.

Coral Greenhouse was installed last December and sits 18m under water on the seafloor at John Brewer Reef, about 70km north-east of Townsville.

The MOUA website says it depicts 20 life-size “guardians propagating coral and spreading the message of reef conservation”.

It features an underwater building that rises 12m, took nine months to construct and has a total weight of 58 tonnes.

Museum of Underwater Art


MOUA Board Chair Paul Victory said divers and snorkellers would be able to visit Coral Greenhouse after its opening in April 2020.

“Local dive operators in the Townsville-North Queensland region will be the best way to experience this new world-class installation,” Mr Victory said.

“Townsville is the hub of marine science and MOUA now offers a contemporary platform to share the stories of the reef and the culture of its first nations people.

“The Museum of Underwater Art will be installed across multiple locations, each telling a unique and powerful story about the reef and the people’s connection to the land and sea.

Museum of Underwater Art

“Eventually the artworks will also take on an active marine science component to increase education and further explore the conversation around reef conservation.”


Mr Victory said $6 million in funding had been secured for the project from the state and federal governments as well as the private sector.

He said funding for the Palm Island exhibit had been secured, however the board was continuing to seek funding for the Magnetic Island stage.

Museum of Underwater Art

“Extensive consultation and engagement around the concept designs is ongoing with the Palm Island community and traditional owners and it’s expected that sculptures will be installed by the early part of 2021,” Mr Victory said.

“(The final stage) will be installed on Magnetic Island, with funding currently being secured. It is envisaged it will be complete by the end of 2021.”

The MOUA is the first project of its type to be constructed in the Southern Hemisphere.