Lonely Planet Writer

Would you be willing to take the plunge into Marseille's underwater museum?

You will literally be able to dip your toe into the art world, if the French city of Marseille gets its way next year.

Marseille, France
Marseille, France Image by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

Developers want to open the country’s first underwater museum – meaning locals and tourists will have to get their feet wet to see what’s on display. The new underwater attraction will be in the Mediterranean and will feature a series of sculptures on the ocean floor. The city authorities have already given the project the thumbs up and now, the museum only needs State approval for the plan to go ahead. The Connexion, France’s English language newspaper, says the plan is to place the attraction about eight metres below the surface of the Anse des Catalans bay in the centre of the city.

The organisers would ideally like to see the museum open in time for next year’s high season, beginning on 8 June, the date of 2017 World Ocean Day. And while those taking the plunge will be allowed onto the premises for free, they may need either to take lessons, or rent diving gear to swim down and view the displays. The director behind the project, Antony Lacanaud, says he is combining his passion for the sea and contemporary art. He told 20 Minutes newspaper that his aim was to add to “what’s on offer for tourists.”

Underwater Museum of Art, Cancun.
Underwater Museum of Art, Cancun. Image by 2il org / CC BY 2.0

The Local reports that the city got its inspiration from a similar museum concept that is already operating in Mexico. The person behind the museum in Cancún, Jason deCaires Taylor, has not only given the French project his enthusiastic support, but is offering to display 15 sculptures there. Monsieur Lacanaud said around 45 works from various artists would go on display and his preference would be for visitors to sign up in advance of a visit. It is also reported that Monaco is planning to open its own version of an underwater museum.