ST. PETERSBURG — Melting clocks, fantastical animals and double images swirl around in a symphony of light and music.
At the Dalí Museum’s new “Dalí Alive 360°,” animations of Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalí's works are projection-mapped from the floor to the ceiling. The dome in the museum’s Avant-Garden opened earlier this summer.
Using hundreds of images, it follows Dalí through his childhood in Spain, his introduction to surrealist circles in Paris, his refuge in America and his eventual return to Spain, reflecting the challenges he faced.
Not only are the visuals extraordinary, when set to music and with the narrative woven together with quotes from Dalí, it’s powerful and emotional. His deep insights about life, art, science and religion resonate.
Themes of mortality are also explored. It’s revealed in one section that Dalí wanted to achieve immortality, quipping that in the unlikely event he would die, he hoped people would say: “Dalí is gone, but not entirely.” When his image appears in the dome, it’s clear his wish came true.
The museum has been integrating technology into art for years, incorporating virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence into exhibits. This experience furthers that voyage into the future of how we will experience art.
Now is a very opportune moment to visit the museum, to gain a really full picture of Dalí. In addition to the masterworks on view in the permanent collection, the special exhibition “Where Ideas Come From: Dalí's Drawings” (on view through Oct. 22) gives a glimpse into his process and influences. To then see his artworks larger than life in “Dalí Alive 360°” is a special experience.
The narrative of “Dalí Alive 360°” was created by museum staff, led by executive director Hank Hine, who said he started writing it years ago.
“We wanted to tell a story that people may not get from looking at the pictures because there are many stories that can be told about Dalí,” he said. “The one we wanted to tell was his example as the redemptive power of the imagination and how you can continually reinvent yourself to meet the problem.”
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In the past two years, the museum began assembling a team to create the experience, working with five different companies on all facets, including the building, air conditioning and projectors.
The museum partnered with Grande Experiences — the creator of “Van Gogh Alive,” which the museum presented in 2020 — to produce “Dalí Alive,” an immersive traveling exhibition.
“Dalí Alive 360°” was customized for the dome by Omnispace360, which also engineered the dome and sound projections. The company has done more than 40 dome experiences around the world, including touring ones at six Super Bowls, the Coachella Music Festival and Austin City Limits.
Hine said as far as he knows, the museum is the first in the world to present such an experience in the permanent dome structure.
Chris Lawes, CEO of Omnispace360, said dome experiences are the future of cinema and exhibitions. He said they are gaining more popularity worldwide because of the seamless environment that envelops viewers. It’s similar to virtual reality, but instead of a solo experience in a headset, it’s one you can share with others.
Lawes said it’s been the company’s plan to build a network of permanent immersive entertainment venues throughout the country. The Dalí was the first to agree to having a permanent dome, which is fitting because Dalí the artist was such a visionary, he said.
“The Dalí was willing to be innovators in that sense,” he said. “I think other museums could also build these sort of experiential, virtual reality shared reality rooms.”
What to know before you go to “Dalí Alive 360°”
Dalí Alive 360°. Tickets are an optional $15 add-on experience to the $29 museum admission ticket. Discounts are available for seniors, students, children and more. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. every day except Thursday, when the museum is open until 8 p.m. The Dalí Museum, 1 Dalí Blvd. (Bayshore Drive and Fifth Avenue SE), St. Petersburg. 727-823-3767. thedali.org.