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Underwater Museum of Art expands

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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. — America’s only Underwater Museum of Art is located in our own backyard in the Gulf of Mexico, and with success growing, the museum is expanding by adding a second installment. 

Boats, divers, kayakers and paddle boarders were in awe watching as 12 master pieces were transferred from a barge to their new home. The pieces sit 60 feet below sea level at the bottom of the Gulf.

“The creativity on sculptures were amazing. I loved all the different kinds that went down,” said Austin Wells, a Walton County local.

Walton County is home to around 700 artificial reef modules, but the underwater museum is unique. 

“This is a special one because we actually had a bunch of artists who got to create these modules we are deploying to make habitats and fish and diving opportunities for tourist and locals,” said Melinda Gates, Coastal Resource Liaison.

Everything is eco-friendly and designed to attract hundreds of marine species.

“We’re actually not just making art, we are making a great artificial reef,” said Stewart Walter, Deployment Barge Captain.

The Cultural Arts Alliance and the South Walton Artificial Reef Association spearheaded this project. Officials say they hope to have a third installment.

“We love our beaches, we love our bay. We love all of the environmental aspects of the county and this just gives one more plus so people can come and see Walton County,” said Gates. “I’m excited to get out there myself and see what they look like below the surface.”

The museum is located at 357 Main Park Rd. in Santa Rosa Beach. You can also visit umafl.org.

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