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UMA Receives CODAaward

The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA) in partnership with the South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA) is proud to announce that the Underwater Museum of Art (UMA) recently received the 2023 CODAaward for Collaboration of the Year!

CODAawards: Collaboration of Design + Art recognizes outstanding projects that integrate commissioned art into interior, architectural, or public spaces. The 11th annual international design competition recently announced winners across 10 categories, as well as 2 People’s Choice Award winners and a new Collaboration Award. This year’s 411 submissions came from 24 countries around the globe, celebrating innovation and artistic excellence.

This year, a new award was added for the first time. Titled the Collaboration of the Year Award, this honor goes to the project that demonstrates the importance of the collaborative process among creative teams, commissioners, and industry resources. Toni Sikes, CEO of CODAworx states that “The Collaboration of the Year Award recognizes the collective imagination of many professionals who work together to create spaces that are transformed through artwork. The end result is pure magic.” Information on the 2023 CODAawards is available on

“It is an honor that CODAworx created a category that represents the heart and soul of the Underwater Museum of Art and recognizes its true collaborative nature,” said CAA Executive Director Jennifer Steele. “The CAA is grateful to work alongside co-founders Allison Wickey and SWARA, Walton County, The Reefmaker, and our supportive partners to bring the UMA to life and ensure its long term success. It would not happen without each partner’s diligence, creative spirit, technical knowledge and passion for the project.”

"The experience of swimming through the Underwater Museum, seeing all these amazing works of art and the thriving marine ecosystem they've become, is truly inspirational. But what's left the deepest impression is the collective passion, creativity, determination, and teamwork that have built the UMA since the start,” said SWARA President Walt Hartley. “SWARA is proud and grateful to work in partnership with the CAA, our community, and our supporters to Create Living Reefs for Generations. The CODAworx 'Collaboration of the Year' award is a true honor, and a real testament to the UMA's continued growth and success. Credit is also due to the tremendous marine life populating the UMA site -- even underwater, the collaboration continues!"

Named by TIME Magazine as one of 100 of the “World’s Greatest Places,” the UMA is the first and only permanent underwater sculpture museum in the United States and is located in Northwest Florida, less than one mile off the coast of Grayton Beach State Park in Walton County, Florida.

The UMA has been featured in online and print publications including National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Travel & Leisure, Newsweek, The New York Times, and more. Part of the CAA’s Art In Public Spaces program, the UMA also augments SWARA's mission of creating marine habitat and expanding fishery populations while providing enhanced cultural, economic and educational opportunities for the benefit, education, and enjoyment of Walton County residents, including students and visitors. The project is supported by Visit South Walton, the Florida Division of Arts and Culture, the National Endowment for the Arts, Visit Florida, and The Alys Foundation.

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. The first phase of the UMA project included seven pieces of sculpture installed in June 2018 and the fifth installation occurred in July 2023, bringing the total number of UMA sculptures to 40.

Learn more about the project, see photos and video of the previous installations at


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