Some may be surprised to find out that outside of Spain, there is a huge, incredible collection of Salvador Dalí's work seemingly tucked away in St. Petersburg Florida. Located in a stunning building on the scenic downtown St. Pete waterfront, this iconic museum is the perfect jumping-off point to explore the rest of the city.
6 Things You Didn't Know About Dalí and the Dalí Museum
- The Dalí Museum houses more than 2,000 works of art in 20,000 square feet of gallery space, including numerous oils, watercolors, sketches, sculptures and other objects.
- Of the 18 "Masterworks" Dalí produced, eight are located in the St. Petersburg museum.
- The artist's eccentric nature and appearance made him the leading representative of the Surrealist movement - a 20th-century avant-garde literature and art movement that tried to unlock the creative potential of the unconscious mind. Dalí's most well-known painting and a prime example of surrealism is The Persistence of Memory, which depicts melting clocks in a landscape environment. In the Dalí Museum you can see the painting The Disintegration of Persistence of Memory, its companion piece, which in a way tears apart the original.
- Visitors to the museum, who often know Dalí solely as a surrealist, are surprised at the enormous variety of his art. His early works include landscapes, portraits and still lifes, while his later works capture fascinating double images and immense religious paintings. He incorporated optical lillusions, geometry and holography into the later works. He was also a filmmaker who collaborated with Luis Bunuel and many special exhibits have touched on this aspect of the artist's work.
- You won't just see Dalí here: the museum also features temporary exhibits of other artists relating to Dalí and surrealism and hosts a range of special events and educational programs.
- The Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain, houses the broadest range of Dalí artworks,some of them created expressly for the museum. But St. Petersburg's The Dalí Museum is home to the most comprehensive collection of the artist's work outside Europe.
Paintings You Must See on Your Visit
The vast collection includes paintings that are representative of the many periods Dalí went through, from his early years, through the famous surrealist years, to his later masterworks. Check out Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire and Old Age, Adolescence, and Infancy (The Three Ages) for their surreal tromp l'oeil trickery. You can spend hours in front of the large masterworks that include The Hallucinogenic Toreador, The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, The Ecumenical Council and Galacidalacidesoxiribunucleicacid - Homage to Crick and Watson.
Architecture of the Dalí Museum (That Almost Steals the Show)
The museum building, a 66,450-square-foot structure located right on the St. Petersburg waterfront, is a masterpiece in its own right. High-profile architect Yann Weymouth (who worked with I.M. Pei on the Louvre’s glass pyramid) created the design to pay homage to Dalí’s free-flowing imagination. The structure represents the artist’s blend of classical and fantastical styles. You'll enter through the gift shop, which purveys a huge range of merchandise tied to Dalí's work. Be sure to study the "Glass Enigma" that tops the Museum from indoors - it comprises 900 different triangles and extends from floor-to-ceiling, then head up the helix-like concrete spiral staircase that was inspired by the spiral forms that frequently appear in Dalí paintings.
Why Kids Love the Dalí Museum
Given the artist's penchant for eye trickery, this museum offers kids a playful introduction to fine art. Ask for the Surreal Family Guide, which directs kids through the museum and points out interesting facts about the art and the artist. The Museum also hosts monthly events like Breakfast with Dalí, an interactive tour led by a Dalí docent and a group of junior docents who expose participants to Dalí paintingswith special kid appeal; Dillydally with Dalí that allows children to discover the world of Dalí through games and arts and craft activities; and specialty camp programs that train kids 9-12 to be docents.
What To Do After Your Visit
The Dalí Museum is located in the heart of picturesque downtown St. Pete. Featuring seven miles of beautifully preserved waterfront parks, this pedestrian-friendly city center has enjoyed a revival in recent years, and gleaming new skyscrapers and restaurants dot the waterfront. Not only are the views spectacular, but so is the food, with Beach Drive and Central Avenue offering a number of restaurants and cafes, many with al fresco dining.
At night, things really heat up. Bars and restaurants come alive, and every first Friday of the month, the city hosts a big block party along Central Avenue, complete with live jazz, food, drinks and dancing in the street. The city is also home to many outdoor events, including the Firestone Grand Prix, the Mainsail Art Show, the Festival of States parades, Gala Under the Stars and much more.
More Downtown St. Pete Museums & Masterpieces
St. Petersburg is alive with art galleries, sidewalk cafes and many other museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts. Wander through the vintage shops and one-of-a-kind boutiques along Central Avenue. Along Beach Drive, browse art and antique galleries, plus find great dining, coffee shops and more.
Beach Drive is also home to the Chihuly Collection - Morean Arts Center. This permanent exhibit displays the blown glass art work of world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly. The exhibit space was designed especially for the collection and includes pieces created specifically for the exhibit, as well as some of his traditional glass pieces.