5 Wow Moments at The Dali Museum

by Carmel Vivier

The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, houses a unique—and impressive—collection of art from every aspect and medium of artist Salvador Dali’s career (1904-1989). Here are five aspects of the museum that left me in awe:

The Building and Surrounding Garden

Built to reflect the innovation, creativity and uniqueness of Dali’s artwork, the museum itself is a work of art. The three-storey structure of concrete and glass is built to withstand hurricane-force winds, yet sits like a box with geodesic glass fragments that appear to have grown out through fractures in the concrete. The main entrance to the museum seems to be held up by a giant boulder, and upon closer inspection you notice a spigot that is reputed to tap into the legendary waters of St. Petersburg’s Fountain of Youth. Needless to say, I just happened to place my hands under the spigot to get some of that water—after all, it can’t hurt.


Credit: Carmel Vivier

The interior is no less impressive. A wonderful, spiralling stairway appears to lead you right up to the glass roof. The main floor houses a wonderful gift shop, café, theatre, community room and classroom areas, while the second floor holds the museum’s offices and the third floor houses exhibits.

The Incredible Collection

Housed on the third floor, the collection includes paintings, drawings, prints, mixed art works, photos and manuscripts showcasing Dali’s evolving artistic ability. Founded on a collection donated by A. Reynolds and Eleanor Morse, the collection continues to grow through the acquisitions by the museum. There are free daily guided tours or you can take yourself on an audio tour.

The Dedication to Educating Youth

The museum offers free admission to school groups (10 or more) from kindergarten to grade 12. There are also audio tours for youth 5-13 years of age and exhibits with a ‘moustache’ beside them indicating they’re age-appropriate. Unique to the museum is a student classroom on the first floor offering “educational puzzles, videos and lessons in a playful spirit of discovery” that is free for visitors of all ages.

Across the hall from the Dali exhibit is a student art exhibit. Students from area schools were invited to create original artwork using techniques used by Surrealist artists. The result is an exhibit exceptional in both its originality and scope. There were more than 220 entries, with 36 winning entries.

The Gift Shop

All the items sold in the gift shop are themed after Dali’s work. There was a melting clock that had me itching to buy it as a present, as well as exceptional jewellery, posters, books, games and items of clothing, all reflecting some aspect of the artist’s work.

The Helpful Staff

The well-trained museum staff are helpful, patient and, above all, enthusiastic. From the staff, volunteers, gift shop workers and docents to the interns who work there, these people love their jobs—and the artist.

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