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The Dali Museum

An art museum in Saint Petersburg, Florida.

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An unlikely, but wonderful spot that showcases the breadth of Dali's works

  • Nov 21, 2011
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Florida and Dali?  I never would've thought to put the two together.  When I think of the Tampa Bay Area, it doesn't exactly conjure up thoughts of Spanish surrealism.

I've been to the Tampa Bay Area many times over the past few years, counting it as my second home, but had never felt particularly compelled to visit The Dali Museum, mostly because I didn't think it would be much.  My Tampa-resident friend had been talking about visiting it with me for years, but having visited many other yawn-worthy "attractions" of the area over the years, I had my reservations about "wasting" my time in art museum in Florida and always opted to go to the beach instead.  So we never went.

This time around, though, I had a random chance encounter with a fellow art lover in a frozen custard shop in Tampa.  Upon hearing that I wasn't from the area, he told me that I had to visit The Dali Museum.  He cited some of my favorite museums in the U.S. as some of his favorites as well, and said that if I loved those, I would love The Dali Museum as well.  He went into really great detail about it, really talking it up, adding that when I do visit, I should really go on the audio tour to get the most out of it.  And with that, my friend and I were off to The Dali Museum that afternoon.

All I can say is... Wow.  My mind was completely blown.  I had no idea that there was such a gem of a museum in St. Petersburg, nor did I know that it was actually the largest collection of Dali pieces in the world along with Dali's own museum in Spain.  There are 96 oil paintings there, over 100 watercolors and drawings, plus many other pieces, including sculptures and videos.  It was amazing. 

The actual building of the museum is a work of art in and of itself.
The spiral staircase was really neat.  A lady who worked there said that we should walk through them at least once

The works are divided up into two main rooms.  One room is filled with over a hundred of Dali's oil and watercolor paintings while another room is filled with Dali's works of other mediums.  I did the audio tour and started in the room full of the paintings first.  Whenever I think of Dali, I just think of paintings like The Persistence of Memory, so I was completely blown away when I saw how huge his collection was and not to mention how skilled he was and how diverse his paintings were.  This man was a true artist and seeing all of this just made me appreciate his works all the more. 

Also, as a painter, I couldn't help but admire and be in awe of his skills and all of those delicate brushstrokes.  I literally spent minutes staring at, inspecting and soaking each piece, getting as close as I could.  Aside from the skill, I was also blown away by the subject matter and concepts of the paintings.  When I paint, ...I just paint.  But Dali's pieces contain so much symbolism and illusions, creating mind tricks that really make you think.  It's mind-boggling to think to know that this was the way that he saw the world and to see how his history and his life inspired him.  It was also really sweet to see how much his beloved wife, Gala, inspired him.  She's in so many of his paintings and was definitely his muse.

Here's a small handful of my favorites.  See if you can catch the illusions...

The Three Ages

Portrait of My Dead Brother

The Hallucinogenic Toreador

Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (I suggest standing further away to look at this one)

In the second room were Dali's works in other mediums as well as photographs of Dali taken by his friend Philippe Halsman.  Here are some of my favorites:

In Voluptus Mors

Dali Atomicus

This is a hologram of Alice Cooper and his brain.  Apparently, the two artists were friends.  I had no idea!


There were also sculptures and a couple of short films that Dali made.

I ended up staying a bit past closing till they asked me to leave, not even realizing that my friend had actually left to go read in the car during the last hour of my time there.  Oops.  It was that good.  And here's the kicker: towards the end, I didn't even get the chance to thoroughly look at and absorb every single piece in the second room, feeling rushed because I wanted to see everything there, if even just for a moment, before they closed.  I was there for three and a half hours and it was definitely not enough.

Suffice to say, I highly recommend visiting The Dali Museum.  My two tips for visiting would be:
  1. Give yourself at least 4-5+ hours if you really want to get the chance to appreciate every single piece, and especially if you want to watch the two short films in the second room, which are about 15-20 minutes long a piece.
  2. Do the audio tour.  You'll get so much more out of the experience because you'll be able to see so much more in the pieces.  I learned so much about the history of the museum as well as of Dali's life.

Though I have always appreciated visual art and had learned much about the man and his works in art classes, I didn't truly appreciate Salvador Dali's art and skill until I visited St. Pete's Dali Museum.  Highly, highly recommended to visit, even if you're just a passive fan of Dali's at the moment.

I'm so glad that I had that serendipitous moment at the frozen custard shop.
An unlikely, but wonderful spot that showcases the breadth of Dali's works

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December 28, 2011
Tremendous review!
December 28, 2011
Thank you, Paul!
December 06, 2011
Well done. Sensational, isn't it? In the course of the past twenty years, I've paid this museum four visits, the latter three of which spanned seven consumptive hours each. Though vastly inferior to Dalí's Theatre and Museum in Figueres, it's nonetheless an exceptional distant second, as comfortably accessible and extensively furnished as one could expect of it. If it seems incongruous to its locale, do remember Dalí's love of kitsch and matters malapropos. Perhaps as many as three Catalans might be found in St. Petersburg at any given time...two during my absence.

Dalí's and Alice Cooper's mutual admiration isn't entirely surprising, despite the latter's lowbrow genre trappings: both political contrarians for the sake of contention and inveterate trolls, they'd enormous affection for one another's antics and calculated controversy.
December 28, 2011
Wow! Do you live close to the area? If I did, I'd get a membership there! I've always wanted to go to Spain, and when I do, his museum is definitely on my list. My main surprise at Dali and Alice Cooper wasn't so much their styles or personalities, but the fact that I didn't realize that Dali was still alive when Alice Cooper was making it big (should've paid more attention in art history class! :P). Thanks for your comment, Robert!
January 08, 2012
I don't live in or near St. Petersburg, but I've frequented the area.
In Catalonia, Dalí's museum is second in spectacle only to Modernista architecture by Montaner, Gaudí and Jujol, and at least the equal of Fundació Joan Miró or Barcelona's Museum of Contemporary Art. (An aside: Terrassa is the most thrilling little city known to me, blessed with a wealth of Romanesque, Gothic and Modernista structures, especially the miraculous churches of Sant Pere.)

Dalí's commercial appeal peaked from the mid-'50s through the '80s, spanning the entirety of AC's most successful period; the second and final wind of Alice Cooper's touring career began immediately after Dalí's death in '89.
January 09, 2012
When I read about things in history books, I just feel like they're so removed, but in actuality, artists like Dali and Picasso are relatively contemporary. It's still such a trip to know that many of their acquaintances are alive today.
November 22, 2011
I've never really been an art person, but waaaayy back in my freshman year of highschool I took an art class (needed one more elective and every other class was full). To be honest, I found most of it pretty boring, but Dali was tthe one artist I actually got interested in. So much more interesting than bowls of fruit or landscapes. I never knew there was a museum dedicated to him though. Wish I lived in the area.
November 22, 2011
Ha, I was the opposite! I've always loved art, and had taken quite a few art classes. When it came to art history, though, Dali never really peaked my interest -- another reason why it took me so long to finally visit even though I'm in the area pretty often. Well, should you find yourself in St. Pete, do make a trip to the museum!
November 22, 2011
Totally cool! I think I could have spent a full day here! Lucky you!
November 22, 2011
You really could! I know I definitely could!
November 21, 2011
I love Dali and I've never been to Florida but, if I'm ever there, I'm definitely checking this spot out. Amazing review of what sounds like an amazing museum. I'm glad you met that guy at the frozen custard shop, too :)
November 21, 2011
Thanks, Sam! I think you'd really dig the museum and the St. Pete area a lot!
November 21, 2011
Very sweet review!! Seems like you are having a blast there, Dev!
November 21, 2011
Thanks, Woo! T'was indeed a blast :)
November 21, 2011
Salvatore Dali was a great artist. He perfected cubism as evidenced by the collection below. http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=dali+and...aintings&FORM=IGRE#x0y0
November 21, 2011
Spectacular. Thanks for the link, J!
November 22, 2011
You are very welcome.
November 21, 2011
Wow! Spectacular review....well-written with great photos. Very unusual place for sure. If I ever get to Florida.......
November 21, 2011
Thanks, Paul! Most definitely worth a visit if you ever find yourself in the Tampa Bay Area :)
About the reviewer
devora ()
Ranked #4
When I'm not Lunching, I'm a jeweler, and an all around, self-proclaimed web geek. My passions include social media, the interweb, technology, writing, yoga, fitness, photography, jewelry, fashion, … more
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Address: 1 Dali Blvd, St Petersburg, FL 33701
Phone: (727) 823-3767
Hours: Mon-Wed, Fri-Sat 10 am - 5:30 pm Thu 10 am - 8 pm Sun 12 pm - 5:30 pm
Website: www.thedali.org

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