Who's up for a little trivia?
In what city can one find the largest collection of art by Salvidor Dali outside of Europe? If you guessed St. Petersburg, Florida...you cheated.
Thanks to a lifelong friendship with Salvidor Dali, one that no doubt supplied a number of colorful stories, Reynolds and Eleanor Morse amassed a collection of the surrealist's art which was so large it required a museum of its own. After showcasing the collection in an old warehouse outside of Cleveland, the Morse's decided to donate the works to a museum where they could be more effectively shared with the world. The donation came with just one stipulation: the museum had to keep the enormous collection intact. This caveat kept many prominent institutions from accepting the collection, but civic leaders in St. Petersburg knew a good opportunity when they saw one.
|The original museum.|
The Dali opened its doors in 1982 and was one of the first museums in the United States dedicated to a single artist. The museum achieved immediate and lasting success, however its location along St. Petersburg's waterfront posed a significant logistical problem. Each time a hurricane approached Florida's west coast, much of the valuable collection had to be relocated for safe keeping due to the high possibility of flooding. This was an expensive routine, not to mention the risk of damage to the collection every time it had to be moved. Fast forward nearly 30 years, and the museum finally had a solution to their problem. This...
|The new museum.|
The new location of The Dali opened in 2011 and is a work of art unto itself. On two sides the building would appear to be exactly what it is - a fortified hurricane shelter - however the front offers a far different perspective. One more in line with what might be expected from a museum dedicated to the surrealist master. The 18 inch thick glass "igloo" and "enigma" protrude from the museum's front and side, bringing a whimsical twist to the otherwise stale exterior. The dome provides a beautiful view from the inside and is a salute to a similar feature at the Dali museum in Figures, the artist's hometown in Spain.
|View from inside the "enigma."|
Besides the "enigma," the most striking feature of the museum's interior is the spiral staircase which twists from the ground floor and reaches for the heavens toward a glass dome in the ceiling. The helix is said to be a throwback to the artist's obsession with the human DNA, however others have pointed out that the tip of the spiral bears a resemblance to Dali's famous mustache. However it might be interpreted, the helix is another example of a design doubling as art at The Dali.
|The helix spiraling upward from the lobby.|
Of course, the main attraction at The Dali is the collection itself. The museum is home to nearly 100 oil paintings, and over 1000 prints, drawings, photos, and other historical works by the artist spanning his entire career. Here are a few of the highlights...
|Girl with Curls|
|Portrait of My Sister|
|The Disintegration of Persistence of Memory|
All Collection Photos Courtesy The Dali
|Dali's take on the St. Petersburg green bench.|
|The Wish Tree|
To visit The Dali is to take a glimpse inside the mind of one of history's most fascinating artists. The building, gardens, and collection all come together to tell the story of Salvidor Dali in a way that can't be equaled anywhere else in the United States. The St. Petersburg waterfront may at first seem like a strange location for The Dali, but after a while you come to realize that the museum is exactly what he would have wanted. Afterall, it was Dali himself that said, "I am not strange. I am just not normal."
Enjoy Your Stay