The Ministry of Antiquities in Egypt has been working towards the creation of an undersea museum around ancient ruins submerged in the Bay of Alexandria. The plan began in 1998 and has run into a variety of obstacles, but project developers hope to move forward soon. With architect Jacques Rougerie on board and the people of Egypt hopeful to see the museum built, the project appears close to making tangible progress. The site might become the world’s first underwater museum, if the planners can overcome numerous project delays.

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French architect Jacques Rougerie has signed on to design the museum, which will consist of fiberglass tunnels that connect the galleries on the mainland to the underwater exhibit areas, allowing visitors to move between the two spaces. Rougerie has crafted a career from unique waterborne structures, having recently designed a self-sustaining floating city shaped like a manta ray known as the City of Mériens.

Related: Egypt is building a 650-foot-tall pyramid skyscraper called Zayed Crystal Spark

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The project, called the Underwater Archaeological Museum of Alexandria, has met a number of obstacles along the way. The 270,000-square-foot bay falls under the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, and the water is heavily polluted, which limits underwater visibility. UNESCO has been cooperating with the Egyptian government in attempts to clean up the bay so progress on the museum can move forward.

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Several federal agencies and companies have been working together since 1998 on the research and development for the project. A feasibility study was conducted in 2009, but political unrest in Egypt in 2010 caused a delay of more than two years. In late 2013, UNESCO picked it up again and progress has been slow but steady since that time. The project is expected to cost around $150 million.

+ Jacques Rougerie

Via India Times

Images via UNESCO