When in America, the Dali Museum is the place to see the works of the Spanish artist Salvador Dali. The lovely waterfront museum houses the largest collection outside of Spain including: 96 oil paintings, over 100 watercolors and drawings, 1,300 graphics, as well as many photographs, sculptures, and an extensive archival library. The building itself is reminiscent of his very cool museum in Figueres, Spain that I also visited. During the five years I lived in St. Pete, Dali was always a highlight and this Museum is a fond reminder.
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The Enigma of Dali
One notices immediately the amoebic glass which distends from the Dali Museum. It is appropriately named the “enigma” and pays tribute to the dome enveloping Salvador Dali’s museum in Spain and, perhaps, to Dali himself. A spiral staircase (Dali was fascinated by the DNA helix); a butterfly garden (Dali saw the summer birds as transformative creatures); a large rock at the entrance from Cadaqués, the coastal village where he was raised (landscapes from Dali’s past frequently appear in his works): The museum has many subtle features to honor Dali.
The Dali Museum holds the largest collection of Dali’s paintings outside of Europe. Many of his seminal works are here: melting timepieces; levitating place-settings; Abraham Lincoln (a favorite, ahem, of mine when I first saw it as a teen); his masterworks (The Hallucinogenic Toreador, The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus). My new favorite piece is Portrait of My Dead Brother, a haunting work weighted with symbolism that appears, from a safe distance, like an innocuous a graphic print.
Dali’s works are so allegorical I would strongly recommend taking the tour. Without someone to point out the nuances, the paintings are like a good foreign film without subtitles: beautiful and fascinating but in need of the quiet details which contribute to their depth.
The museum's cafe serving tapas and Spanish wines looks out through the enigma to Tampa Bay and is a very good place to unwind after a day at the Dali.