Dali Museum and History in St. Petersburg | RTX Traveler

Known for his technical skill as a painter and shocking imagination, Salvador Dali was a pioneer and leader of the surrealist movement. See the largest collection of his work outside of Europe in St. Petersburg.

There are many exciting and unique things to do when on vacation in Dunedin and the Tampa Bay area but perhaps nothing is more unique than a visit to The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. With the most comprehensive collection of Dali artwork outside of Europe, permanent and rotating exhibits, a stunning new building and outdoor gardens, The Dali Museum is an entire day of intrigue and awe.



Dali Facts

Born: Figueras, Spain on May 11, 1904; Died: Figueras, Spain on January 28, 1989.
Dali is known as one of the greatest surrealists of all time and was best known for his ability to translate dreams into artwork which he called “hand painted dream photographs.”
He and his older brother, who died before he was born, had the same name.
To ward off evil spirits Dali carried a piece of lucky driftwood around.
 Dali had a fear of assassination and germs but nothing compared to his extreme fear of grasshoppers.

Rich in works from artist Salvador Dali’s entire career (1904-1989), The Dali Museum features key works from every medium and moment of his artistic life. The impressive collection is compiled of oil paintings, original drawings, prints, book works, photos, sculptures, manuscripts and an extensive archive of Dali documents.

The museum was founded with the works collected by Dali fans Reynolds and Eleanor Morse which have been integral in the life and success of the museum. In 1942 the Museum of Modern Art in New York organized a traveling exhibit of Dali’s work which visited the Cleveland Museum of Art where the Morses became fascinated with the artist’s provocative and inspiring work.

On March 21, 1943, the Morses bought their first Dali painting, Daddy Longlegs of the Evening, Hope! (1940) and in 1943 the two would meet Dali and his wife Gala in New York City where they would initiate a life-long friendship that included regular visits to Dali’s villa in Port Lligat, Spain. Over the following 40 years the friendship along with the collection grew and evolved into what is now The Dali Museum.


Such an impressive collection of art from one of the most interesting painters of all time deserves an equally impressive and unique gallery to express the vision, passion and talent that dwelled within Dali.  After years in a warehouse the new Dali Museum was opened to the public on January 11, 2011 to rave reviews.

Designed by architect Yann Weymouth, the new building combines the rational with the fantastical in the same manner as Dali did with his paintings. A simple concrete rectangle with 18-inch thick hurricane-proof walls is swallowed by a large free-form geodesic glass bubble known as the “enigma.” Paying homage to the dome that adorns Dali’s museum in Spain, the structure is made up of 1,062 triangular pieces of glass and stands at 75 feet high at its tallest point.


The quirky architectural design continues in the main lobby with a helical staircase, inspired by Dali’s obsession with spirals and the double helix shape of the DNA molecule.  The first floor also includes a Spanish-themed cafe,  a theater showing short films and the Dali Museum Store which features the largest collection of Dali-inspired merchandise in the world.

Outside students taking classes at the museum along with visitors can explore the relationship between math and nature in the Mathematical Garden. Designed to inspire learning and tranquility the garden is on the southeast corner of the building and reflects Dali’s passion for nature and symmetry with designs based on Pi and the Fibonacci sequence and a labyrinth modeled after the one at Chartres Cathedral in Paris.



Founded with the art collected by Reynolds and Eleanor Morse, the museum is home to 96 oil paintings, more than 100 watercolors and drawings, 1,300 photographs, graphics and sculptures. Of the 18 masterwork paintings by Dali an impressive seven are on display, the most of any museum in the world. To be considered a masterwork the piece must be at least five feet in any direction and have been worked on for more than a year.

Located on the third floor in the Tom and Mary James Wing the masterworks are displayed in small salons along the wall, each illuminated by special skylights. Some of the works include the famous Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (1976) and The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus (1954).

Also located on the wing are other recognizable Dali classics to ponder like The Disintegration of Persistence of Memory (1952-54) and the whimsical Eggs on the Plate without the Plate (1932). Across from the painting gallery The Hough Family Wing provides visitors a chance to see other aspects of the artist’s work, featuring his films, photographs, objects and works on paper.


1 Dali Blvd.
St.Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 823-3767
Mon – Sat, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; Sun, 12 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.; Thu, open until 8 p.m.





Other Museums


Historical Museum

Containing 2,000 artifacts, 2,500 pictures and an extensive library the Dunedin Hitorical Museum tells the story of Florida and local events that shaped the area. Named 2013 Best Historical Museum in Tampa Bay by Tampa Bay Magazine, the museum is rich in Scottish history and a great option for a rainy day.
349 Main St.
Dunedin, FL 34697
(727) 736-1176

Chihuly Collection

Located in St. Petersburg the exhibit displays the stunning and colorful glasswork of Dale Chihuly. Housed in a building specifically designed to highlight Chihuly’s creations, the glass pieces illuminate and come to life like never before. A 30-seat theater presents an informative video on the artwork while the store offers the chance to take Chihuly home.
400 Beach Dr. NE
St. Pete, FL 33701
(727) 896-4527



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