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At St. Petersburg Wish Tree, Dali Museum visitors left dreams. Now they’re in a book.

After 10 years and over 20,000 wishes, you can take home a selection of dreams and hopes from other visitors.
Left: A Tampa Bay Times photo of the Dali Museum's Wish Tree. Right: The museum's new book, Wishes from The Dalí Museum Wish Tree
Left: A Tampa Bay Times photo of the Dali Museum's Wish Tree. Right: The museum's new book, Wishes from The Dalí Museum Wish Tree [ Courtesy of the Dali Museum ]
Published Dec. 8, 2021
Updated Dec. 8, 2021

Before Dr. Hank Hine was executive director of The Dalí Museum, he was a book designer, publishing catalogs for museums and volumes as pieces of artwork.

He knew that words on paper can be magical devices — and the perfect setting for wishes.

Hine came up with the concept for the museum’s new book, Wishes from The Dalí Museum Wish Tree. Out Thursday, it contains 250 of the 20,000 or so recorded wishes that visitors have written on brightly colored admission wristbands and tied to the Florida ficus in the museum’s Avant-garden over the last decade.

The four chapters of the book contain aspirations ranging from fun (I hope to one day grow a mustache as epic as Dalí’s) to heartbreaking (I wish my dad accepted me.)

The Wish Tree in the Avant-garden at The Dali Museum was inaugurated almost 10 years ago.
The Wish Tree in the Avant-garden at The Dali Museum was inaugurated almost 10 years ago. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]

Wishes get deeper as the book continues:

I wish to be loved and to love fully in this lifetime

I wish I didn’t have to take this medicine

I hope my mom will show up at my graduation

What surprised Hine most was how selfless many of the wishes are.

“Every once in a while, somebody wants to win the lottery, or [writes] “Go Rays! Hope they win,” he said. “But most of them are heartfelt things for family and friends and the world. It was that texture and quality to these wishes that really prompted making this book.”

Wristbands hang from the Wish Tree in the Avant-garden at The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg in August.
Wristbands hang from the Wish Tree in the Avant-garden at The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg in August. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]

The book’s launch will be celebrated at the museum Thursday. At 11:11 a.m. — the same time the new museum building opened on January 1, 2011 — there will be a reading of wishes. Guest readers include Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, as well as Hine’s 10-year-old son. The museum will also host pop-up tours of the Wish Tree and building. There will be a wish-writing station with kid-friendly materials and photo opportunities in the garden. Wish-themed songs will play overhead on the loudspeakers. Staff members will all wear name tags with the prompt: “Hello, my wish is __.”

Related: The Salvador Dali Museum’s Wish Tree turns 10

An illumination of the Wish Tree takes place at 5:30 p.m. The St. Pete Sax Quartet will play songs while tarot card readers meet with visitors.

While the Wish Tree has been knocked down three or four times during intense storms, it’s now supported on a crutch like a subject of a Dalí painting. Hine hopes visitors continue to seek inspiration from the plant — now more than ever.

“We look forward to a new era past this pandemic, like all the world does,” he said. “I think it’s a good time to make wishes.”

If you go

A Celebration of Wishes at The Dalí will take place all day Thursday. (Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) All activities will be included with museum admission. Reserve at TheDali.org/Tickets. To claim a spot at the wish reading, visit TheDali.org/WishReading. Books are available exclusively at the Dalí gift shop and cost $24.95.