A visit to “The Dali Museum” in St. Petersburg, Florida is your chance at a glimpse into the strange and mysterious world that is Salvador Dali. The late, great Spanish surrealist lived an enigmatic lifestyle which he cryptically conveyed in his creations – 2,100 of which are housed here.
The Dali Museum has its roots firmly set in the family collection of Reynolds & Elenore Morse. The couple began collecting Dali paintings shortly after they were married back in 1943, and continued collecting Dali’s art for the next four decades, which ultimately culminated in the creation of this museum.
Located at 1 Dali Blvd in the perpetually sunny St. Petersburg, Florida – the Dali Museum finds itself nestled snuggly alongside the beautiful and picturesque shoreline of the Tampa Bay, looking like a building in the midst of an intense acid trip!
The contrast provided by the surrounding beauty of the shoreline and the surrealist flavor of the building comes across as almost comical at first, but entertaining none the less, and very Dali-like.
The odd-looking building isn’t hard to spot, architect Yann Weymouth made sure of that by designing the building with 18-inch thick hurricane-proof walls, out of which explodes a large free-form geodesic glass bubble known as the “enigma” – which seems to be devouring the building. The “enigma,” is made up of 1,062 triangular pieces of glass, and at its highest point stands a towering 75 feet, and serves as homage to the dome that adorns Dali’s original museum in Spain.
On the third floor, the Dali houses over 2,100 works, which include 96 oil paintings, spanning the entirety of his career (1904-1989). It is the second largest collection of Dali’s work in the world, only behind that of the “Dali Theatre & Museum” located in his hometown of Figueras, Girona, Spain, which he helped construct. He lived in the museum for the last few years of his life, and is even buried there!
You’ll need to set aside about 3 hours in order to see everything that’s inside and outside of the museum. However, true Dali enthusiasts will want to put aside some extra time so they can really absorb the experience and examine the paintings up close and personal.
You see, a Dali painting isn’t just a painting mind you, if you really look you’ll find brilliantly hidden pictures inside of the picture, and all of his works have meanings attached to them too. So do yourself a favor and take a tour with one of the knowledgeable tour guides, or use a headset, both of which are free, to help guide you with your journey through the museum.
You can see all the paintings showcased at the museum right now here.
Once inside the gallery, I stare in joyous confusion, albeit with the utmost reverence, at the famous images before me. I imagine the maestro himself sitting restlessly in his favorite chair in front of this very painting, meticulously arranging the paint into the scenes now before my eyes. What an experience it must have been to have witnessed the creation of such art.
It’s one thing to see a painting in a book, and yet quite another to see it in person. For me, the experience was almost religious in nature – I’m not kidding. The paintings that I have admired for all these years from afar in various magazines and books, were now hanging right before me, only an arm’s length away! To say I felt lucky is really an understatement.
Also inside the museum you’ll find a small cafe named after Dali’s wife Gala, where you can enjoy some light Spanish fare and down a couple of brews to help get you in the mood!
Here’s a view looking up at the Spiral Staircase inside the museum
Before you leave, be sure to write a wish on the back of your wristband and tie it to a branch of “The Dali Wish Tree” outside the museum.
Ticket prices as of May 2014 were $21 USD Adult, Seniors $19, Teens $17, Children $7, Parking $5.
So the next time you visit Florida, be sure to include a trip to The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, and get your “freak” on! You’ll be glad you did.
What’s your favorite Dali painting? Mine is the “Geopoliticus Child Watching The Birth Of The New Man” which resides at this museum.
If you have been lucky enough to have visited the Dali Theatre & Museum in Spain I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Photo Credits: JP Chartier (all but the last two)