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Salvador Dali Museum, St Petersburg, Florida

Updated on December 24, 2010

An Art Gallery in Florida

The Salvador Dali Museum is located on the delightful waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg. The museum houses the largest and most complete collection of Dali’s visual wonders. The collection includes 96 oil paintings, 100 watercolors and sketches, and 1,300 other visual art pieces. From his impressionism and cubism, to his more renowned surrealism, all the major themes of his career are covered.


One particular painting, featuring Dali's wife Gala, is a piece from Dali‘s classic period and is much more than meets the eye. Seemingly, the painting is a simple portrait of a nude woman gazing out at the unfolding sea. But when onlookers step back, 60 feet or more, they are shocked to find the painting transformed, through squinted eyes, into a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. The painting, completed in 1976 was inspired by a Scientific American magazine feature by Leon D Harmon about the smallest amount of information needed to recognize a human face. Depth reduction of the field, achieved by squinting, reveals the visage of the American president.


For insights into the life of this truly extraordinary and versatile artist, the curators provide a short film about Dali and his wife, Gala. He was so versatile, in fact, that he even branched into clothing design, creating designs for Coco Chanel, the maven of haute couture. As a painter, Dali was an aficionado with hidden or double meanings, a clear reflection of his belief that all things were blessed with inner life and ambiguity. For example, he employed insects as symbols in his paintings. Esperance, or hope, was the daddy longlegs and death was indicated by gadflies and Cyprus trees. Grasshoppers, with their frenzied night songs, were terror, and ants, with their carrion feedings, were decay.


Museum docents are well versed in the history of the museum and of the man it honors, so anyone who comes to visit will be well versed on the life of this interesting artist. For the most involved experience, the chance to see and absorb all there is to see, you will need no less than three hours.


The museum offers free parking. Because the parking is so close and so convenient, visits to the Dali museum are perfect on hot summer days or nights. And once you have completed your tour, downtown St. Petersburg is well within walking distance. What better way to wrap up your trip to the museum than to enjoy coffee or drinks at one of the many St. Petersburg cafes.

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