The Dali Museum has been in St. Petersburg, Florida since 1982 but a new, larger museum designed by architect Yann Weymouth opened in 2011. It's an iconic building in St. Petersburg with a large free-form glass bubble known as "The Enigma", which is made up of 1,062 triangular pieces of glass and stands 75 feet tall. We had tickets to visit the museum and finally got a chance to explore the exhibits together. We both knew of Dali's famous painting "The Persistence of Memory" so we were curious to see more of his art. This museum carries the largest collection of Dali's work outside of Europe and is rated the #1 place to visit on Trip Advisor in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Not only is the outside of the museum interesting but the structure inside is stunning as well. We loved the huge glass windows that overlooked Tampa Bay and the helical staircase which represents Dali's obsession with spirals and double helical shapes.
The museum houses over 2,000 of Dali's work in it's permanent collection including 96 oil paintings, many original drawings, book illustrations, prints, sculpture, photos, manuscripts and an extensive archive of documents. They also have interesting exhibits like "Dreams of Dali in Virtual Reality" and "Dali Revealed: Candid Moments from the Artist’s Life".
We're slowly starting to visit more art museums, so we're not experts when it comes to critiquing art but we appreciate unique art pieces and Dali delivers just that. We also love Dali's silly personality. One thing that stuck out to us about Salvador Dali were photos of his personal life. They were just as intriguing as his art work. I didn't know much about Dali, so Crystal pointed out how he always makes these funny facial expressions in his photos.
You know that one person in group photos who always has to stand out and refuses to do a normal smile? Well, that is what you get from Dali and the museum made sure to display a ton of those photos of him. Apparently, he was well-known for his public eccentric behavior which a lot of time drew more attention than his artwork. Well, that was exactly what was happening to us. We couldn't stop staring and laughing at his odd facial expressions in his photos.
One painting that really left us in awe was the "Lincoln in Dalivision". When we first approached the painting up-close, we didn't think much of it. We were like, "Lincoln and a lady?". What we saw was a painting of a woman and at the bottom corner was a super tiny painting of Abraham Lincoln. We both started taking photos of the painting and when we saw the playback of the photo, we immediately saw that the photo was Abraham Lincoln.
So...why weren't we able to notice this at first? To see the image transformed into a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, you have to view it at a distance of 20 meters (~65 feet). We spent quite a bit of time just staring at this painting after we realized the transformation. Also, the four squares to the right reminded me of the Microsoft Windows logo. It's probably just weirdo me thinking this and obviously there is no correlation since Windows came out almost a decade after this painting was created.
There were a ton of other interesting paintings and some of them were enormous. I always wonder how an artist decides how large they want their canvas to be and how much paint it actually costs to make it. Crystal especially loved Dali's "Lobster Telephone" because it's just so ridiculous.
The museum also showcases other limited-time exhibits and, at the time we went, it was "Memory, Mind, Matter: The Sculpture of Eduardo Chillida". We walked through Chillida's exhibit pretty fast because we were starving at this point and all we could think about was food.
We headed downstairs to Cafe Gala and were disappointed that we didn't eat sooner. Most of the items on their menu were sold-out, which was a bummer because it was all the Spanish cuisine entrees they were out of. That's what we really wanted to try since that is where Dali is from (and we also love Spanish cuisine). We had no choice but to settle for the turkey wrap. Not as exciting as the other dishes, but we weren't disappointed in the flavors. The turkey was roasted and the lemon garlic aioli was delicious. We also ordered the Magdalenas (we had to get something Spanish), which was a delicious citrus almond muffin.
When you exit the building, there is a small park where you can contribute a wish to the Dali Wish Tree. You attach your museum's paper wristband to the tree and it will carry your wish. There was a really nice calm breeze that day and the ribbons moving back and forth were really mesmerizing.
This museum is relatively small compared to some of the recent ones we have visited like the Crystal Bridges Museum (Bentonville), Ringling Museum (Sarasota), or the Mori Art Museum (Tokyo). You'll most likely need only half a day to look through everything at this museum. We suggest eating lunch at noon or slightly before, at the Cafe Gala, to avoid limited menu options.
THE DALI MUSEUM
ADDRESS: 1 Dali Blvd, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
PHONE: (727) 823-3767
HOURS: Daily Hours 10 am - 5:30 pm // Thursday 10 am - 8 pm
ADMISSION: Adults $24