Thursday, March 20, 2014

Welcome to the Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida

Dali fan or not, you don't have to be, to be struck by the mad genius of something odd, authentic, grand, and well-designed. If this place doesn't make you curious, you may want to look up the meaning of the word.

The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida is very welcoming. The door at the entrance says so in 10 different languages. See if you can find yours.
It doesn't matter where you look. Everything has a touch of Spanish artist Salvador Dali. A visit here is a complete experience.

The building, designed by architect Yann Weymouth with HOK Architects, Tampa, Florida, is a giant rectangle with 18-inch thick hurricane proof cement walls – rounded geodesic, glass bubble windows that form a beautiful atrium constructed from some 1,062 pieces of specially designed, thick, triangular, insulated and laminated glass.

The atrium is 75 feet high at the tallest point. It wraps around one side of the building from the ground floor and climbs to the top of the building. Incredible! When thinking of geodesic structures in simple terms, think rounded domes making friends with triangles in a lattice shell structure for support and strength to resist and avoid destruction from wind.

I think of the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg as a beautiful bunker for art.
If you are a photographer, the place can drive you deliriously mad shooting it from every angle. Your eyes will not want to forget. I travel light with a snap n' shoot and pocket my camera. You can go much further in image detail if you want to lug around a professional camera. But no shooting pics in the gallery. Museum security in suits are everywhere watching everyone like a hawk. Follow the rules!

The Dali Museum is a really cool 20,000 sq. foot state-of-the-art gallery. It doesn't feel like a museum. It's a genuine Dali experience in a spectacular waterfront location across the street from the beautiful 4.78 acres Albert Whitted Park and the South Yacht Basin on Tampa Bay.

The Dali Museum is an architectural wonder. The massive glass atrium lets in natural light and gives you beautiful views on every floor. It is a stunning masterpiece. Was the architect inspired by Dali's Santiago El Grande painting . . . and famous architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome designs?

We were lucky to visit the Dali Museum at 1 Dali Blvd., in the southern Florida city of St. Petersburg off Tampa Bay, in the first week of January 2014 on a cold windy weekday mid-afternoon. 

Notice, I didn't say we were lucky with the weather. We were visiting Florida from Canada's National Capital Region, hoping to escape the coldest winter our region has had in 20 years. We brought our ski jackets, and Canada's cold North wind followed us for most of the week, but with less zest. Some days we could even wear shorts.

Luck is a funny thing.

You can be unlucky on one hand, but lucky on the other. It depends on your perspective. Others say, “Timing is everything.” Dali had a thing with time and clocks too.

There were no big crowds and plenty of parking at the Dali Museum when we arrived. I hear it can be a busy place depending on the day and time you visit. So, beware. And . . . hope you get lucky.

During our January visit, we had time and space to relax and ponder each painting with a medium flow of reflective, quiet people.

Parking was $5, and there is a fee to view the gallery. But you can enter the museum without charge and eat at the Cafe Gala or visit the museum store/gift shop.

The new Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida opened in 2011.

It is popular! The museum has the largest Dali collection outside of Spain, with 96 Dali oil paintings (permanent collection), and much more with prints, sculptures and drawings.

There are many Dali museums around the world. 

Salvador Dali created an immense body of work during his lifetime. He was born in Figueres, Spain in 1904 and died in 1989 in his birthplace.

The intriguing Dali collection in St. Petersburg, Florida spans several periods of Dali's eccentric life, from early to late, where his inspirations and visions took him from the real to the impressionistic, a deep and long plunge into the surreal, modernism, and the science of DNA.

Other Dali museums and galleries can be found in his birthplace in Figueres, Spain, as well as Berlin, Germany, Paris, France, Australia, New York, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee in the U.S.A., Madrid, and Cadaques, Spain, London, England, Venice . . .

The blue Dali dolphin is out front, or is it the back of the building? 
Dali Museum blue dolphin, downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Mahaffey Theatre next door.
Is this the Dali effect with a little bit of Florida mixed in? I have no concept of what is the front or the back of the Dali Museum. The entrance to the building, which opens into the museum store/gift shop, seems like the back door to me. But I like the building and grounds from all angles. My concept of front and back is transformed.

There are other exhibits featured at the Dali Museum as well:
Warhol at the Dali. Art. Fame. Mortality. Jan. 18-April 17
On the main floor you'll find the Cafe Gala. 
I'm looking down on the cafe admiring the view as I descend the spiral staircase from the third floor exhibits.
The cafe is named in honor of Salvador Dali's wife Gala. The menu is inspired by Spanish cuisine offering light fare, tapas, desserts, coffee, and wine and beer served in a casual open atmosphere. You can eat inside the cafe or outside on the beautiful waterfront terrace.
To view the Dali paintings and exhibits, follow the spiral staircase up to the third floor, or take the elevator. The view is better from the staircase.

The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida was founded with the works collected by Reynolds and Eleanor Morse. They bought their first Dali painting in NY, in 1943, met Dali and his wife Gala a month after their first purchase and became friends. They collected his paintings over 40 years.

You have of choice of  how you want to tour the Dali Museum Exhibits: 

  • on your own
  • with a group guided by a docent (museum guide), or
  • with self-guided audio (earphones)

You can't take photos of the original paintings inside the beautiful gallery, but in the museum store/gift shop, you can take photos and purchase prints of selected Dali works for a reasonable price. They are displayed on the wall of the museum store. I chose two of his early impressionistic works of festivals. Each print under $20 U.S.D. (Not all available prints are shown in this scaled down image.)
There is so much more to explore and enjoy at the Dali Museum and its beautiful location in St. Petersburg, Florida than I can explain or present in one post.

For more information you can visit the museum website: The Dali Museum 

Time for dinner

After our visit to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, we headed to one of our fav Italian and seafood restaurants a few minutes away, BellaBrava at 204 Beach Drive NE.

Enjoy your time on and near the water.
The BaffinPaddler

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