Tuesdays are “I tried it Tuesdays” where I’ll tell you about something I recently tried — a movie, an activity, a restaurant, etc.
Today’s topic: The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida
What it is: A museum dedicated to surrealist artist Salvador Dali, (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989), whose most well-known painting is: La persistencia de la memoria (1931) or The Persistence of Memory
Why I tried it: I was in St. Pete’s for the weekend with a group of girlfriends to run the inaugural Women’s Half Marathon.
About the artist: Salvador Dali was a Spanish surrealist painter who was also a skilled draftsman who did not limit himself to one media — his repertoire (and, indeed the collection at the museum) includes film, sculpture, photography, jewelry and even holographic art (featuring Alice Cooper, no less).
Eccentricity: Dali was nothing if not eccentric and flamboyant and that, of course, fit with the whole surrealist movement. Dali loved attention — going out of his way to embrace idiosyncrasy while rejecting the idea of an underlying madness or darkness of the mind. In fact, Dali himself said: “”There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.”
That said… : It’s pretty hard to walk through this museum without saying to yourself on at least 10 occasions…”this guy was whacked.”
To get the full experience: You must take a museum tour. Never fear, the tours are free with museum admission and they are lead by really great museum docents.
Don’t worry…they don’t give you the background & history on every single piece in the museum (and there are at least 100 …possibly more) — they just cover some of the “highlight” pieces including some of his other more interesting or famous works such as:
Above, from left: 1. The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (1952-1954); 2. Three Young Surrealist Women Holding in Their Arms the Skins of an Orchestra (1936); & 3. Old Age, Adolescence, Infancy (The Three Ages) (1940). (All images copyright of The Salvador Dali Museum).
Admission: Is not cheap — $17 for adults for regular daytime museum admission. However, every Thursday night the museum opens from 5 to 8 p.m. and admission is just $5.
Would I reccomend it? Even if you know absolutely nothing about art, Dali or the surrealist movement, you will find this museum fascinating. Just the array of pieces that they have will enrapture you. While I loved the 45-minute tour (I’m guessing on that time frame), I wish I’d have had more time to really explore his work one by one (and I could have, but I sensed the friends I was with weren’t as keen on reflecting on every piece as I was).
Bottom line: If you’re ever in St. Petersburg, put this museum on your MUST-do list. This is an experience I will never forget. To be honest, I’m not all that artsy of a girl…seriously, I don’t even GET the whole modern art thing…but Dali’s surrealist work was just, well…. the kind of thing that will forever change the way I look at art…and at the world itself.
New museum: By the way, they are currently building a brand new Dali Museum in St. Peterburg. It’s supposed to be completed in 2010. I saw the new museum (It was right by the start of the Women’s Half Marathon start) and it’s as eccentric and interesting as Dali himself…but…what would you expect — four cinder block walls and some mirrored glass windows? Not a chance in the whole whacked world. Even the groundbreaking was, well…not your usual men-in-suits-turning-over-shovelfuls-of-sod.
Interesting note: The museum was founded by a couple — Reynolds & Eleanor Morse — from Cleveland, Ohio (which, frankly, made me think…hey…by rights, this museum should totally be up north — here in Yankee land — why does Florida get everything…sun, sand, beaches, pelicans, warm weather year-round, ….).