Salvador Dalí Museum | The Source Of Culture In St. Petersburg, Florida

“At the age of six I wanted to be a cook.  At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.” – Salvador Dalí.

Dalí’s outlook on life was fiercely technical yet highly unusual paintings, sculptures and visionary explorations in film and life-size interactive art ushered in a new generation of imaginative expression. From his personal life to his professional endeavors, he always took great risks and proved how rich the world can be when you dare to embrace pure, boundless creativity.

People in the gallery viewing Toreador | Photography courtesy of Salvador Dalí Museum

Founded with the works collected by philanthropist and businessman Reynolds Morse and his wife Eleanor Morse, the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida has made significant additions to its collection over the years.

In 1942, the Morses visited a traveling Dalí retrospective at the Cleveland Museum of Art organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and became fascinated with the artist’s work. On March 21, 1943, the Morses bought their first Dalí painting – Daddy Longlegs of the Evening, Hope! (1940). This was the first of many acquisitions, which would culminate 40 years later in the preeminent collection of Dalí’s work in America. On April 13, 1943, the Morses met Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala in New York initiating a long, rich friendship regularly visiting the Dalí’s villa in Port Lligat, Spain.

The Morses first displayed their Dalí paintings in their home, and by the mid-1970s decided to donate their entire collection. A Wall Street Journal article titled, “Art World Dillydallies Over Dalí’s,” caught the attention of the St. Petersburg, FL community who rallied to bring the collection to the area and in 1982 The Dalí Museum was officially opened.

The Dalí is the epicenter of culture in the Tampa Bay, FL area and is a must-visit for locals and visitors. Located on the picturesque waterfront of downtown St. Petersburg, the museum provides visitors with an opportunity to view an unparalleled collection of Salvador Dalí’s works and become immersed in, and inspired by, the works of this legendary artist. From the museum store to the café to the stunning gardens and galleries, The Dalí can provide an unforgettable day in beautiful St. Pete.

Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida | Photography courtesy of Salvador Dalí Museum

The distinguished new building, which opened on January 11, 2011, enables the museum to better protect and display the collection, to welcome the public, and to educate and promote enjoyment. Designed by architect Yann Weymouth of HOK, it combines the rational with the fantastical: a simple rectangle with 18-inch thick hurricane-proof walls out of which erupts a large free-form geodesic glass bubble known as the “enigma.” The museum spans over 68,000 square feet.

The Enigma, which is made up of 1,062 triangular pieces of glass, stands 75 feet at its tallest point, a twenty-first century homage to the dome that adorns Dalí’s museum in Spain. Inside, the museum houses another unique architectural feature – a helical staircase – recalling Dalí’s obsession with spirals and the double helical shape of the DNA molecule.

Visitors enter through The Dalí Museum Store, featuring the largest collection of Dalí-inspired merchandise in the world. Café Gala offers Spanish-themed light fare with both indoor and outdoor seating. The theater regularly shows a short film about Dalí and the museum and is also the setting for concerts and lectures. Children and adults can take classes or participate in making art in the Classroom.

Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida | Photography courtesy of Salvador Dalí Museum

All of the galleries are located on the third floor. In between the two main wings of the museum sets on overlook with a breathtaking view of the gardens and waterfront through the Enigma. The James Family Wing holds the permanent collection of Dalí’s works. The Hough Family Wing shares special exhibitions. The spaces themselves compliment the art by showcasing them in a way that makes Dalí’s artistic periods understandable for guests. Works in similar styles are grouped together and the overall flow explains his progression as an artist.

The museum is home to an unparalleled collection of Salvador Dalí art, featuring more than 2,000 works comprising nearly 100 oil paintings; over 100 watercolors and drawings; and 1,300 prints, photographs, sculptures and objects d’art across more than 60,000 square feet. It is the largest collection of Dalí’s work outside of Spain, and one of the most acclaimed collections of a single modern artist in the world. The Dalí is the first and only museum in the Southeastern United States to be recognized internationally by the Michelin Guide with a three-star rating.

The museum also frequently hosts special exhibitions featuring acclaimed artists that have a tie to Dalí and/or his works. Past special exhibitions have featured artists such as Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Walt Disney, Leonardo DaVinci, MC Escher and Frida Kahlo, amongst others.

The Dalí Theater-Museum in FigueresCataloniaSpain, and the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg are separate entities but close allies with similar missions to protect, preserve and celebrate Dali’s work and legacy. They often collaborate on special exhibitions – it is virtually impossible to do a show on Salvador Dali without one or both of the museums.

Guests visit from around the world – the museum welcomes visitors from more than 30 countries each year – whether passionate followers of Dali or Surrealism, or art generally, and many times we hear from visitors it is their first visit, ever, to an art museum.

Dali’s Helical Stairs | Photography courtesy of Salvador Dalí Museum

Visitors are also often interested in the architecture of the building itself, as well as the Avant Garden. The Dalí Museum aims to delight and educate our visitors and to provide unique inspiration for events, programs & special exhibits by caring for and sharing an expertly curated collection of Salvador Dalí works. It also serves as an active resource in the cultural life of our community and the world at large.
Header photo courtesy of Salvador Dalí Museum