A few weeks ago, we decided to have a “staycation” day just a short drive north of our beautiful suncoast. We headed up to St. Petersburg for the day to visit the Dali Museum. Located on the waterfront of Tampa Bay, you can certainly make a whole day of seeing the incredible artwork and finding a great place to eat and enjoy the urban vibe on Beach Drive.
The permanent collection at the museum is 20,000 square feet of exhibit space and showcases more than 2,000 pieces of art spanning all aspects of Dali’s career. As a first time visitor, the first stop was the theater to watch a 9 minute film explaining surrealism. I highly recommend watching this before you visit the exhibit.
I was very curious how Dali’s painting ended up in St Pete. According to the explanation on the Dali Museum website:
In 1942, A. Reynolds and Eleanor Morse visited a traveling Dali retrospective at the Cleveland Museum of Art organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. They were fascinated with the artist’s work. A year later, they bought their first painting, Daddy Longlegs of the Evening, Hope! (1940). This was the first of many acquisitions. They displayed the Dali paintings in their home and were the subject of a Wall St. Journal article in the mid-70s when they decided to donate their collection. The St. Petersburg art community rallied to bring the collection here and opened the first Dali Museum in 1982. The new building, which opened in early 2011, is larger and better able to serve the public as well as protect the collection.
Included with your admission is access to the permanent collection as well as any traveling or special exhibits. There are self guided audio programs available at no charge as well as docent tours. We chose the self guided audio tour which was incredibly helpful. I was mildly familiar with Salvador Dali, but having the audio available to explain many of his paintings made the experience that much better. Most people are familiar with surrealism but, after seeing this exhibit, I have a much better understanding. As you progress through the galleries, you see each stage of Dali’s works beginning with his early works, his anti-art, and through the surrealist pieces.
Part of the collection includes a virtual reality experience which is a must-do. Until my visit, I would have never imagined that Salvador Dali had a friendship with Alice Cooper. Mr. Cooper was part of the “Dreams of Dali” interactive experience. Once you put on the VR headset you are taken inside a 1935 painting entitled Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s “Angelus”. It was absolutely fascinating.
Also on display at the museum was a special exhibit which runs through May 19, 2019; Magritte & Dali, which celebrates these two famous surrealists. There are some fun interactive displays here as well where you can place your head in the famous Magritte bowler hat and apple painting. There’s also a “cloud” room depicting the familiar clouds of the Magritte paintings.
The outdoor spaces are just as beautiful as the inside. Make sure you take some time to explore the gardens and the spectacular architecture of the museum itself. The views of Tampa Bay are fabulous. It’s just a short walk from the museum to Beach Drive were you can find boutique shopping and numerous restaurants. From Lakewood Ranch, it’s a quick trip in under 40 minutes. It’s well worth the drive to experience some Dali.
Find out more about the museum here.
Photos courtesy of Heidi Schild.