Visiting the Dalí Museum in St. Pete, Florida
Step into a museum unparalleled in mystery and intrigue when you travel to St. Petersburg (St. Pete), Florida. The Dalí Museum, housing the largest collection of painter Salvador Dalí’s work outside of Europe, is an aesthetically pleasing, world-class attraction. Many don’t know it exists on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Once inside, you’ll be whisked away to a creative world of melting clocks, pencil-thin mustaches, and amazing artwork.
**this article was originally published in April 2015. It was updated April 2020.
About Salvador Dalí
Salvador Dalí, 1904-1989, was born in Fuegeres, Spain. He professionally trained in art, including studying under Picasso, a mentor and friend. Dalí joined the Surrealist Movement in 1929 and painted many subjects based solely on his imagination. He rose to great stardom in the art industry around the world.
Dalí is most recognized for his upturned waxed pencil thin mustache. Perhaps he started the hipster movement long before it was heard of. Salvador spent his time between Europe and the United States, while painting over 1,500 pieces throughout his life.
Touring the Dalí Museum
At the Dalí Museum, you are provided a free audio guide or can chose to take a guided tour at scheduled times. The main galleries, featuring around 2500 items, are located on the third floor, atop a gorgeous helical staircase that seems to float in thin air. Dalí was fascinated with spirals and the shape of the DNA module, which is where the idea for the staircase comes from.
Many of the gallery items are on loan from both private and public collections, and change quite frequently. Regardless of when you come to visit the museum, you’ll find a huge selection of Dalí’s beloved, or questioned, works. There may be displays that are not allowed to be photographed, so pay close attention.
The Design and Designer
The Dalí Museum was designed by architect Yann Weymouth, in a way best described as “combining rational with fantastical”. One thousand sixty-two triangular glass panels, called the enigma or the geodesic glass bubble, create the front shape of the building. The calming waterfront background adds allure to the gorgeous gem. It is best viewed from the third floor of the museum where you can see the Tampa Bay waters and impeccable Avant-gardens.
East Garden, the grotto, and West Garden make up the Avant-garden. From carved limestone benches to a pond, a living wall of blooming flowers to air plants, you’ll find a spectacular offering of nature meets art in this space. You could spend hours just exploring the variety of plants in the gardens. Don’t miss the waist-level spigot that pours out St. Petersburg’s Fountain of Youth waters under the ground
The Dalí Museum has special exhibits throughout the year, such as Walt Disney, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and the haute couture gowns and accessories of Schiaparelli in recent years. They typically draw on the rivalries and greatness of both artists, Dalí and whomever is the special guest artist at the time.
My Favorite Works by Dalí
Here are photographs of the pieces I am always attracted to. Girl with Curls, portraying a girl whose body is obviously too large for the landscape. Both The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus and The Ecumenical Council pull me in with the light, colors, and so many interesting things going on in it. I especially like Dalí’s self-portrait at the bottom of The Ecumenical Council, and his seaside coastal town appearing in the background.
If someday I may die, though it is unlikely, I hope the people in the cafés will say, ‘Dalí has died, but not entirely.’ – Salvador Dalí
Gala Dalí Cafe and Gifts
The Dalí Museum’s onsite restaurant, Gala Dalí, offers fantastic cuisine. I know because every time I visit the museum, I also have lunch. The cafe is named for Dalí’s wife. It’s menu has many Spanish favorites, such as Caldo Gallego Soup, a Spanish ham and white bean concoction that is bursting with delicious flavors and palate pleasing. It’s served with buttered, grilled bread. They also offer tapas, sandwiches, salads, coffee, wine, and beer. The cafe has indoor and outdoor seating.
Before leaving the museum, take a moment to browse the incredible gift shop. There are so many cool Dalí collectible and souvenir items to choose from, plus puzzles, art supplies, tarot cards, posters, books, and even gag gifts.
Entrance to the Dalí Museum is $25 (18-64) and $23 for those 65+. Discounts are available for students, children, military, police, firefighters and educators. Ages 5 and under are free.
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