Europe’s first underwater contemporary art museum, Museo Atlantico, is filled with eerily realistic human sculptures 14 meters beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Jason deCaires Taylor is the sculptor who creates underwater installations. Their purpose is “to promote the regeneration of marine life and to use sculpture as a means of conveying hope and awareness of the plight of our oceans,” Taylor said.

The permanent works were designed to be “artificial reefs, attracting corals, increasing marine biomass and aggregating fish species, while crucially diverting tourists away from fragile natural reefs and thus providing space for natural rejuvenation,” Taylor said. The underwater environment will change the sculptures over time, a unique aspect that cannot be recreated artificially.

One installation, The Rubicon, is made up of 35 people walking towards a gate. They stare, at a device, into nothing, mid-step. The artist’s new project, The Raft of Lampedusa, addresses the Syrian humanitarian crisis. Refugees wait for help in a boat on the ocean floor. The inspiration for this installment is The Raft of Medusa, by painter Théodore Géricault featuring stranded sailors.

Museo Atlantico is installed near Lanzarote Island and will soon be open to snorkelers and divers.