Salvador Dali has long been one of my favorite artists. His profound works challenged the status quo and completely altered the face of modern art. What impresses me the most though, is his range as an artist. Even though his most famous works were masterpieces depicting a surreal world, he excelled in several other genres as well. The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Fl houses one of the largest Salvador Dali collections in the world and is a journey through his entire career. It’s a must see attraction if you are visiting the Tampa Bay area and we highly recommend visiting.
Originally founded by Reynolds and Eleanor Morse, the Dali Museum currently resides in a new home opened in January of 2011. The Morse’s met Dali personally in 1943 and maintained a relationship with the artist for the remainder of their lives. The Morse’s collection is the anchor of the museums collection which has now grown to over 96 oil paintings, many original drawings, book works, prints, sculptures, photos, manuscripts, and an extensive archive of documents. From the moment you arrive at the museum, your breath is taken away. The external architecture is bold and stands out in front of the waters of Tampa Bay. The building features a glass structure, named The Enigma, that provides incredible views form both inside and out.
The centerpiece of the museum’s interior though is the helical staircase, topped by the glass structure.
The museum is so stunning and significant that it was rated by the Michelin Guide as the top museum in the American South and called “One of the top buildings you have to see before you die” by AOL Travel News. The first floor of the museum houses a large gift shop, a cafe, a learning center, and this lovely recreation: The Rainy Rolls.
You then climb up the spiral staircase in order to visit the two phenomenal galleries. The Tom and Mary James Wing takes you through Dali’s entire career showcasing many of his works. This gallery also houses some of Dali’s largest works which are lit by special skylights to properly display these masterpieces.
One of my favorites was this piece that is currently on loan to the museum, The Santiago El Grande.
The second gallery is the Hough Family Wing which showcases other mediums of Dali’s works including sculptures, films, photographs, and works done on paper.
This Gallery featured one of my favorite works from Dali, the Lobster Phone. It’s simple, ridiculous, and evocative. This piece was actually created in both full color and in this simple creme colored version pictured below.
I was also quite impressed with an inclusion of a student gallery. It’s always wonderful to see a museum that is committed to supporting the budding art community.
The collection is thorough and takes you through the chronology of Dali’s career. I was truly impressed with the vastness of the collection housed in the museum. It was an incredible experience to see Dali’s early works and how he evolved as an artist throughout his carer. To me, some of the most fascinating pieces were the sketches that showed Dali’s thought process as he composed his works. After visiting the two galleries, the tour of the museum is not yet complete though. There is an outdoor area as well that takes full advantage of the museum’s placement on Tampa Bay. It features a cool labyrinth that takes about 5 minutes to complete, and some tributes to Dali’s work.
The wish tree in the center of the lawn, was by far the coolest.
Spending the day at the Dali Museum was a fantastic experience and I recommend it to anyone who has even a fleeting interest in art. Dali’s ability to engage you with his complex works bring forth an amazing emotional tide. You can spend 5 minutes staring at one of his works of art and find hidden meanings and images in every corner. Dali was truly a legendary artist, and the Dali Museum does his legacy justice.
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