The Salvador Dali Museum St Petersburg, Florida… EH?!

Salvador DAli Museum-St Petersburg- Florida

Salvador DAli Museum-St Petersburg- Florida

The new Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida

 The Salvador Dali Museum in Florida. EH?


What the heck is a world-acclaimed museum dedicated to Salvador Dali doing in St Petersburg, Florida? Good question!


After all, Dali was Spanish, wasn’t he? Yes indeed.


So… what did Dali have to do with Florida? Absolutely nothing, as it turns out!


In fact, the American collectors of this ‘largest collection of Dali’s work in the world, outside of Spain.’ don’t even have anything particularly to do with Florida either.  A Reynolds and Elizabeth Morse were from Cleveland, Ohio! Eh?!


Plot thickens… Here’s the story as I’ve heard it told:


posters of Dali’s paintings for sale in the Dali Museum’s store


Mr. and Mrs. Morse first became fascinated with Dali’s work in 1942 at a retrospective show of Dali’s paintings at the Cleveland Museum of Art. They bought their first Dali painting in 1943 and later met Dali and his wife, Gala, the same year in New York City. That kicked off a life-long friendship with many visits to Dali in Spain and 40 years of collecting Dali’s work. By the time they were finished, the Morses had amassed one of the largest retrospective collections of a single artist in the world!! Over 2000 pieces, with works from 1917-1970. (Dali’s art from age 13- 66 !)


In 1971 the Morses created a museum in Cleveland, adjacent to Mr. Morse’s company, to house and show their extensive private collection. A few years later came the big kicker: The United States tax laws changed. The Morses were required to declare the total current value of all artwork owned. Suddenly, the taxes they owed the US government outstripped their entire wealth! (gee, thanks Mr. Taxman!)
So, in 1979 they began a nationwide search for a museum to which they could donate the entire collection. They had some strict stipulations which made finding a compatible museum difficult. They insisted that none of the pieces could be sold or separated. (makes sense to me!) Finally a group of St Petersburg community leaders made an offer, complying with their stipulations. And thus the Dali Museum was born in St Pete, opening in 1982.


So that’s how The Dali Museum came to be located in St. Pete , Florida! Cool story, eh?!
As for how I happened to visit the museum recently:


Dali Museum from bay side drive


This year, on January 11, the NEW Dali Museum opened along the St Petersburg waterfront. The architecture is astounding! And, quite interestingly, it reminds me very much of the gorgeous modern buildings I recently presented in my photo gallery ‘Architecture of Singapore’ Lots of angled glass and futuristic design elements.


Dali Museum, Bay side


I’d seen the new museum building while cycling around the city and couldn’t wait to go! I’d actually visited the original Dali Museum several years ago while visiting my brother Brad, who lives in St. Pete. I was more than excited to go see Dali’s artwork again.. and get the low-down on the museum.


Dali Museum, bay side
Dali Museum, bay side, in garden

So on my recent birthday I spent the day at the museum, along with my mom and brother, asking questions, browsing around the eclectic Museum Shop (what cool stuff they have!) and most importantly, gazing wide-eyed at Salvador Dali’s art.

Dali Museum garden: melting clock on bench
Dali Museum store


I joined a guided tour, which was fascinating. I learned a lot about Dali, his life, ideas, inspirations, techniques, and artistic development. I also learned much about several selected paintings- the meanings, techniques and symbolisms in the works. WOW- his paintings are incredibly complex! His mastery of color, light and complexity are astounding. It’s no wonder whatsoever why he’s one of the most famous and successful artists in the world.

Not surprisingly, nobody is allowed to photograph the actually paintings. So instead I’ve got lots of pics of the fantastic museum architecture… Check this out:

Atrium staircase leading up to the sky window
closer shot of spiral staircase and sculpture
and closer…
the tip-top point


view from inside the lobby looking out
view 2.. of St Petersburg marina


Happily, the amazing surrealist architecture of the new museum building lives up to the quality and creative of Dali’s work.


If you’re interested in learning more about the Dali Museum check their website: TheDali.org
And, if you ever get a chance to visit DO IT!


Reporting from Florida, Lash



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  1. Dimagirl

    It is a lovely museum and well needed in St. Petersburg to house such an extensive precious collection. I live in Bilbao Spain also and here we have the Guggenheim of Bilbao. They do a wonderful music series each year highlighting musicians and DJ's-we pay a ticket price which also allows one to view the exhibits in the evening while listening to the artist/artists. It is a wonderful evening event and dont' know if the museum in St. Pete does this but is very popular here.

  2. LASH

    Hi Dimagirl! thanks for stopping by and reading my post on the Dali Museum.
    the Gugenheim in Blibao sounds fantastic!
    the Dali here does many evening events including weekly movies of Dali or Dali-themed movies and other stuff. Nice to meet another museum / art fan! cheers, Lash

  3. Dimagirl

    Good to hear they have things going on there. The story behind the collection is fascinating and I can't even begin to imagine being an owner of even one of these paintings! I have my few favorites in the museum but enjoy all of them. He was a very eccentric man with an eccentric life all reflective in his paintings.

  4. LASH

    I think the story behind the collection is quite interesting, too. Yeah, how awesome would that hve been to befriend Dali, visit him at his home, and have money to buy all his paintings, thus essentially being his patron?! That's what I'd do if I were wealthy- sponsor artists… and take care of cats. :))

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St. Petersburg Florida is bursting with art, culture, historic buildings and neighborhoods, markets and some quirky unique past times.Don Cesare Resort at St Pete BeachDon Cesare Hotel at St Pete Beach I must admit it wasn’t always this way for St Pete, as I discovered during the St Petersburg Preservation Society’sweekly Saturday Walking Tours. St Pete was actually founded in the late 1800s as THE original Florida ‘Vacation Land’. Conceived and promoted by 3 key Florida land owners, St Pete was dubbed ‘Health City’ and a railroad installed to ship people in. Their scheme worked. The land developers quickly built heaps of hotels, cafeterias, movie theaters and churches to accommodate the masses of Americans flocking to St Pete’s sun, sea and warmth. Over the decades more and more elderly people made their way to St Pete’s wonderfully warm, healthy environment. So many that in the 1970s St Pete became the brunt of various national jokes. It was referred to as the city of  “the newlyweds and nearly deads” and the place “where retired people go to visit their parents.” Oh, dear, not good for commerce! During the following 2 decades, St Pete became pretty much a ghost town.Stetson School of LawStetson School of Law, originally Ragayt Hotel, St Petersburg To remedy this and revitalize the city, various developers and city officials undertook the task of changing the city image, mostly by tearing down old buildings and replacing them with modern ones. That scheme eventually worked too. And today, voila! St Petersburg has emerged as a completely revitalized modern city, simultaneously attracting a completely different breed of tourist and becoming an invigorating place to live. In fact, the city has gained a new image as “The City of the Arts.” Dazzio School of Art and galleryDazzio School of Art and gallery In recent years, among other things, St Pete has been dubbed America’s #1 mid-sized-city ‘Top Art Destination 2010′. It’s home to several world-class museums including the important Dali Museum and Chihuly Glass Collection. It offers the largest produce market in the US southeast, every Saturday. It has many important registered historic buildings, neighborhoods and districts. Is home to the world’s largest shuffleboard club. Has the country’s only lawn bowling bowl testing center.  Has one of only two post offices in the States delivering mail by bicycle. And offers other quirky charms. Let’s take a look at some of them:st petersburg-floridashop signs at St Pete art district AMERICA’S #1 MID-SIZED CITY FOR THE ARTS For several years running St Pete has been listed among the Top 25 Arts Destinations of mid-sized cities in the USA by American Style Magazine. In 2010 St Pete took 1st place! In 2011 the city’s hoping for a repeat. This designation is a result of St Pete’s amazing diversity of arts. Ceramics at Craftsman HouseIn addition to boasting 4 world class museums, St Pete has a burgeoning and diverse local arts community. Several blocks of Central Avenue in downtown St Pete are filled with painting galleries, craft shops, ceramic shops and even an art school. Further out along Central Avenue are 2 more blocks of art galleries, antique shops and boutique cafes. Several art organizations work actively to promote galleries, arts and artists including The Downtown Arts Association, Florida Craftsmen Inc, The Morean Arts’ Center, The Dazzio Art Experience and the Craftsman House. Every 2nd Saturday evening is ‘Gallery Walk’ when downtown art shops stay open late to receive packs of art lovers browsing the neighborhood.—————————————————————————————————————————–Saturday Morning Market, downtown St PeteSATURDAY MORNING MARKETS  SaturdayMorningMarkets.com St Pete’s Saturday morning market, right along the waterfront in downtown St Pete, gets bustling early with organic vegetable stalls, homemade pastry and coffee shops, tropical plant nurseries and an array of artists’ stalls and ethnic clothing. As the market gets underway, dozens of ethnic food and homemade gourmet food stalls open. People start flooding in. Round about 11 am a band begins playing in the middle of the market to entertain the guests. It’s a lively, festive, cultural experience. Band and enthusiastic dancer at St Pete Saturday Morning MarketSt Pete’s market is unique in the US on many counts. It’s the largest market in the southeast. It’s the only market with a seating area and a band in the middle of the market. It’s the only city market run privately instead of municipally. It has the largest selection of ethnic foods and largest variety of arts n crafts. Most of all, it’s a fun venue with a sense of community among both vendors and visitors. Not bad St Pete!—————————————————————————————————————————– ALBERT WHITTED AIRPORT:   Albert Witted Airport Whoever heard of an airport IN DOWNTOWN? Well, ST Pete has one! It’s the Albert Whitted Airport. The runway sits right on the Tampa Bay waterfront. The small city-owned and operated airport shares its waterside home with the Dali Museum and the St Pete municipal marina. planes at Albert Witted Airport, St Pete Every day small privately owned, company and commercial planes fly in and out of St Pete. Private plane owners come both for business and pleasure, from all over Florida and the US. Think how convenient it’d be to fly into a city then simply walk 10 minutes to a nearby hotel. Splendid!Besides use for private planes, the airport offers flight instruction, plane storage and parking, fueling, and other flight services. Several important life-saving organizations also use the airport.—————————————————————————————————————————–The Dali, St PetersburgDALI MUSEUM  TheDali The NEW Dali Museum just opened it’s doors on Jan 11, 2011, with a creative big-bang opening ceremony. Prior to its new location on St Pete’s waterfront, the Dali Museum had already been in St Pete since 1979, located just 3 blocks away. The new museum’s fabulous architecture adds extra dazzle to Dali’s amazing paintings. art store at Dali Museum Owning nearly 2000 Dali’s works, ranging from 1913 to 1970, it’s the largest retrospective collection of a single artist in the world! The history of the Dali Museum, particularly the details on how a museum of Dali ended up in St Pete is quite fascinating.According to the museum’s guest surveys nearly 50% of all guests visit St Pete primarily to visit this astounding collection of Salvador Dali’s works. For more info read about my recent visit to the Dali. —————————————————————————————————————————–Dale Chihuly Float Boat, 2010 3 x 4½ x 12’ Chihuly Collection presented by Morean Arts Center St. Petersburg, FL Photo by Terry Rishel CHIHULY GLASS COLLECTION  Chihuly Collection The Chihuly Collection, presented by the Morean Arts’ Center, opened in July, 2010. Inside are 16 astounding installations by Dale Chihuly of Washington state. Mr Chihuly is credited as completely transforming the glass arts, even so far as to have influenced the world of art in general. His glass installations are found internationally in 4 countries as well as all over the USA. I recently visited the Chihuly Collection in St Pete and was simply blown away. To learn more about what you’ll experiencet here, read my take on the Collection, complete with professional photos of the Chihuly installations from the Collection’s press kit.—————————————————————————————————————————-St Petersburg Shuffleboard Club SHUFFLEBOARD CAPITAL OF THE WORLD  St Pete Shuffle Ever heard of shuffleboard? It’s a little-known outdoor leisure game along the lines of croquet, lawn bowling and bowling. And St Pete is the Shuffleboard capital of the world!Shuffleboard is played on a long narrow shuffleboard court by 2 or 4 players who slide hockey-puck-like discs down the court aiming to land in the scoring area at the far end of the court. The objective is to earn 75 points before your opponent. Shuffleboard requires both skill and strategy. Players must learn the proper pushing strength and aim to place their pucks on the point zones or knock out their opponents’ pucks. St Petersburg courts on Friday evening Since 1923 The St Petersburg Shuffleboard Club has held the honorary title of Largest Shuffleboard Club in the USA, for what it’s worth. That turns out to be more than I’d expected. I’d always guessed shuffleboard to be an odd American pastime, so I was surprised to learn that the game is popular in Canada, UK, and Europe, especially Germany. It originated as a ship game on British Naval ships. The land-based version was invented right here at the St Pete Club. Friday evenings courts are open to the public. 100-150 people regularly play each Friday night.If you’re North American, British or European and shuffleboard sounds like the game for you, check out St Pete Club’s website or shuffleboard clubs in your area. Who knows, you might get hooked. —————————————————————————————————————————-St Pete Lawn Bowling Club LAWN BOWLING  St Petersburg Lawn Bowling Club If shuffleboard doesn’t catch your attention, how about lawn bowling? Another long-term St Pete pastime, it got rolling in 1916 by an American and two Canadians. Currently the St Pete Lawn Bowling Club includes members from the US, Canada, Scotland and Germany.Lawn bowling is also played on outdoor courts, but with ‘bowls’ instead of pucks. They’re not ‘balls’ I was informed because they’re not round but rather shaped like flattened balls with one side weighted. The weighting causes the bowls to curve when they’re rolled, making the players’ aim more difficult. In lawn bowling, players roll the bowls in a curved arch down the court trying to get as close to a white marker as possible. As in shuffleboard, part of the strategy entails knocking opponents bowls out of the way. Teams play 12 rounds, or ‘ends’ as they’re called, and tally up total points from all 12 segments to find the winners.  Club members playing lawn bowling The St Pete Lawn Bowling Club holds two distinctive honors. The main building is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places along with the likes of the Statue of Liberty. Secondly, this club is the only place in the US  to test and re-spin lawn bowls. Whats more, the making, balancing and testing of lawn bowls was invented here in 1938-1940 with the help of a hired professional billiards manufacturer. Nowadays, those skills are left to Austin Sevener, which apparently makes him the only lawn bowl refurbish-er and tester in the USA! If you visit St Pete, stop by M-W-F mornings to play some ends of lawn bowling with the very friendly, welcoming club members.—————————————————————————————————————————-St Petersburg open-air post office OPEN-AIR POST OFFICE AND CYCLING POSTAL DELIVERY   St Pete. org St Pete’s post office is listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings. Built in 1916 to imitate the architecture of a hospital in Italy, the beautiful building showcases many intricate details no longer found on government buildings, including curved archways, American eagle carvings, and rows of brass postal boxes. This post office is unique on two other counts as well: 1. It’s America’s first open-air post office, open-air meaning the post boxes are located outside. Box owners can access their mail any time of day or night. Handy! Johan, one of St Pete’s cycling postmen 2. St Pete postmen deliver mail by bicycle! Only one other place in the US, in Arizona, has bicycle mail delivery. St Pete has 15 bicycle delivery routes. Postmen arrive at 7:30am, sort mail for about 2 hours, then set out on their 6-hour pedal around the city. Since they can’t possibly carry all the mail for the entire day at once, the post office has set up ‘relay boxes’ around the city where postmen stop to pick up their next batch of mail. Pretty cool! ————————————————————————————————————————House in North Shores District, now a B n B HISTORIC HOUSES DISTRICTS St Pete Preservation St Pete is full of beautiful historic churches, houses, hotels, arcades and other buildings. In addition, it even boasts entire historic districts full of old early-20th century homes. The two most acknowledged and famous neighborhoods are the North Shore District and the Kenwood District.The North Shore neighborhood is full of large, often landscaped homes that were originally situated  right on the beachfront. The beach has since been moved 2 blocks away, thanks to land reclamation, but the grand houses still remain. Kenwood holds the largest collection of ‘bungalow’ style houses in the USA. ‘Bungalow’ houses come in many different styles including Mediterranean, ‘airplane’, and Craftsman. What distinguishes them, among other things, are their front porches with columns, wide overhanging roofs, and often a set-back upper story. The neighborhood also boasts brick streets, granite curbs and hexagonal sidewalks. This area was St Pete’s original full-time residential neighborhood (as opposed to tourists and part-time residents) Nowadays Kenwood is a community-connected neighborhood with active members who work to preserve its charm and authenticity. —————————————————- As you can see, St Petersburg, Florida is a flourishing city full of interesting, unique and quirky charms. I hope you’ll get to visit one day to enjoy the arts, history and, of course, the sun, sand and sea that still remain in ‘Sunshine Capital of the USA’.reporting from the road, cheers, Lash /* /* 4 pingsLASH’S NIGHT AT THE SYMPHONY – LashWorldTour » LashWorldTour says: 2012/02/29 at 2:33 am (UTC 8 ) Reply[…] might also like:Chihuly Glass Collection, St Petersburg Salvadore Dali Museum in Florida…Eh? St. Petersburg: Jewel in the Muck of Vacationland Florida Culture Shock! The Strangeness of Being in the USA Photo Gallery: Waterbirds of […]CHIHULY GLASS COLLECTION, ST PETERSBURG FLORIDA – LashWorldTour » LashWorldTour says: 2012/02/29 at 2:33 am (UTC 8 ) Reply[…] /  alfonsoarchitects.com  You might also like the following posts on LashWorldTour:St. Petersburg: Jewel in the Muck of Vacationland Florida Salvadore Dali Museum, St Petersburg, Florida Photo Gallery: Dali Museum Photo Gallery: Waterbirds […]10 FREE THINGS TO DO IN ST. 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