ABOUT THE UNDERWATER MUSEUM OF ART
The UMA (umafl.org) is the first permanent underwater sculpture museum in the United States. A collaboration between South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA) (swarareefs.org) and the Cultural Arts Alliance (CAA) (culturalartsalliance.com), the UMA calls on artists to create original work that becomes part of the sculpture exhibition and artificial reef system on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.
Named by TIME Magazine in 2018 as one of the “World’s 100 Greatest Places,” the UMA is part of the CAA’s Art In Public Spaces program and augments SWARA’s mission of developing and maintaining an extensive artificial reef system offering divers, snorkelers, fishermen, and researchers near-shore access to a thriving marine ecosystem. The UMA provides enhanced cultural, economic and educational opportunities for the benefit, education, and enjoyment of Walton County residents and visitors.
Deployment of sculptures as artificial reefs provides a source of biological replenishment and protective marine habitat. The sculptures quickly attract a wide variety of marine life, and over time, evolve into a living reef. This eco/arts-tourism attraction not only entices art lovers and divers from around the world; it also provides a much-needed habitat for local marine life and fisheries and an opportunity for marine scientists, wildlife management professionals, ecologists, and students to study marine life and measure the impact of artificial reef systems on the Gulf ecosystem.
The UMA is produced in conjunction with SWARA’s existing USACOE and FDEP permitted artificial reef project that includes nine nearshore reefs located within one nautical mile of the shore in approximately 58 feet of water. A one-acre patch off the shore of Grayton Beach State Park has been dedicated to the UMA project.
Annually, artists are invited to submit their work to be considered for permanent exhibit in the UMA, and the sculptures are created above ground and delivered to the deployment area where each is attached to a custom pedestal made of marine-grade cement. The sculptures are then transported by barge and carefully installed on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.
The first installation of seven sculptures took place in June 2018, and the fifth installation happened in July 2023, bringing the UMA collection to 40 original pieces of work.
GUIDELINES AND CRITERIA ARTIST ELIGIBILITY
This opportunity is open to all artists and artist teams. While a demonstrated history of completing large- or small-scale public art projects is ideal, all artist applications will be considered. Artist teams should have a demonstrated history of collaboration.
Following the application deadline, the CAA will convene a panel of arts and marine environment specialists to review the applications and select seven proposals for completion and installation. Each artist or artist team will receive a $7,500 stipend inclusive of design fees, materials, labor, fabrication, construction, packing materials, shipping, and transportation.
Once selections are made, artists will be notified and have approximately five months to complete and deliver work to Walter Marine in Orange Beach, AL to be attached to its custom pedestal. Sculptures will then be transported by barge to the Gulf and carefully submerged to the floor.
Lead artists previously chosen to produce a sculpture for the UMA are eligible for consideration twice in a three-year period. Artists may submit more than one design for consideration, but a separate application must be completed for each design.
ARTWORK CONSIDERATIONS & CRITERIA
Work must be the artist’s own creation, not a copy or replica, and adhere to the following:
There is no one-size-fits-all rule, but artists should keep in mind that bigger/taller/heavier/less detailed sculptures will fare better at 60’ water depths. If a piece is too short or small, it is less likely to be noticeable or sustainable in these waters.
Dimensions may vary slightly with approval) Minimum dimensions: 5 feet x 5 feet. Maximum dimensions: 12 feet x 12 feet. Maximum height: 15 feet. Minimum weight: 500 lbs. Maximum weight: 5,000 lbs. Delivered (without permanent base) *also see flange requirements below
Note: If the sculpture is, for example, 8 feet wide x 4 feet tall, it can still be mounted as long as it has a substantial flange. All sculptures will be embedded about 6 inches into the pedestal so they need some sort of flange on bottom (the bottom 6 inches will be lost to sight in the pedestal system). This will ensure there is enough material to embed into the pedestal so the unit will stay attached and upright.
Clean concrete and limestone are the only approved materials to be used for the bulk of the sculpture. Heavy gauge steel products may be incorporated into the design, but it must be a minimum ¼” gauge or greater. Stainless steel should be grade 316 and aluminum should be specified as grade 5053, both of which are non-corrosive.
Artists should take into account the presence of boat anchors in and around the UMA site and should make their best effort in the design to mitigate risk of damage to artwork by anchors.
Each artist will be required to provide check-ins that include both photos and video, along with virtual meetings, throughout the build process to prove the materials and build methods are followed.
There is no design theme to which your proposal should conform. However, no political, religious, or discriminatory designs will be considered. Link to images and more info:umafl.org/exhibits
Deployment CANNOT be guaranteed if artwork is not received by this date. Artists will be given a point of contact for delivery and will provide details to point of contact when they are available, including method of transportation, bill of lading, packaging, disassembly and reassembly requirement, etc.)
Delivery Artwork must be received by April 2024.
Each UMA sculpture will likely have to face a hurricane in its lifetime and these underwater forces are extreme.
An art piece needs to be able to endure a structural integrity test. At a minimum, an adult should be able to climb on top of the piece without any concern of damage or flexing. This will also ensure that any elements of the work will not break due to vibration during land-based shipping. If a piece does break during shipping, we cannot guarantee deployment or final payment.
DO NOT CREATE YOUR OWN PERMANENT BASE. After delivery, each sculpture will be permanently affixed to a concrete pedestal that weighs approximately 3,000 lbs and measures 8 inches tall. The dimensions of the base will conform to the design of each piece of work. After the sculpture is attached, the pedestal top is embedded with limestone to attract corals.
Turtle Escape Hollow, voluminous designs must include a top-side turtle escape of 36 inches or greater in size.
The UMA is a dive site located in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Northwest Florida, specifically in Walton County .7 miles from the shore of Grayton Beach State Park.
UMA GPS Center of Patch Reef Area #3: 30* 18.754’N / 86* 09.562’W (see attached map) Distance from Grayton Beach State Park Coordinates above are .93 nautical miles at 198° heading. Depth 60 feet (+/- 3 feet)
Visibility depends on local weather conditions but average 10-50 feet most of the year. Average water temp At the nearest NOAA buoy water temp is 76.7 F (high is 88.2 F in August, low is 62.4 F in February)
Application is available via culturalartsalliance.submittable.com/submit (Submittable). Interested applicants should register with Submittable in order to view the application.
Deadline for submissions is October 6th at 11:59 pm CST. Submittable registration is free to artists, and there is no application fee.
Complete a separate online application for each submission.
UMA INTERNATIONAL AWARDS & PRESS ATTENTION