With its opening on Jan. 11, 2011, the striking and grand Salvador Dali Museum entered a new era in its home along St. Petersburg’s picturesque waterfront. With almost as much surrealism in its design as the artist’s paintings, the Salvador Dali Museum is a lasting tribute to the artist and to benefactors A. Reynolds and Eleanor Morse, whose original benevolence put the city and the Dali Museum on the world map.
It was back in 1943 that the Morses first began collecting Salvador Dali’s paintings, and when they decided to donate their collection with the stipulation that it be kept intact St. Petersburg was the only city that saw the potential in having a shrine to the surrealist’s work. The Morses were won over by the proposed site, which reminded them of Dalí’s native Catalonia with its sea and rocks.
The old Dali Museum opened in 1982 and steadily grew in stature. In 2002, Dali’s work The Persistence of Memory was loaned to the museum by the Museum of Modern Art, a measure of the Dalí Museum’s elevated status in the art world.
But the museum needed more space, and security from hurricanes. And so a plan was born to build a new structure further north.
Now a new and bolder Dali Museum has emerged with its gleaming Glass Enigma, a free-standing spiral staircase and numerous other touches that mimic Dali’s works. At last, all 96 Dali paintings in the collection will be on display at once, including such well known works as Daddy Longlegs of the Evening Hope!, Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea Which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko) and The Hallucinogenic Toreador.
The story of the Salvador Dali Museum is rich in detail and even some intrigue. So take your time and explore our special report to see for yourself why this museum and the surreal artist are now forever entwined with St. Petersburg’s history.