Salvador Dali Museum

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 new Dalí Museum is eight blocks north of its old site (1000 Third St. S) and is on the downtown waterfront, with a new address: 1 Dalí Blvd., at the southern end of Bayshore Drive SE. • Its cost is about $36 million. • It has 66,450 square feet, more than twice that of the old building. • Gallery space totals about 15,000 square feet, a 50 percent increase. • For the first time in its history, the museum will have room to continuously exhibit all 96 paintings in its permanent collection. • The exterior walls are 18 inches thick and have miles of reinforcing steel to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. • The architectural element known as the Glass Enigma is composed of 1,062 glass triangles, the most-complex structure of its kind and size in the United States. The panes are cleaned by climbers who can bolt into anchors built into the metal grid holding the glass, then ascend with buckets of soap and water. • An estimated 1,200 to 1,600 tons of Florida limestone dot the site. Most was excavated from the Homestead area by Larry’s Cap Rock & Stone. • The freestanding spiral staircase was created on-site by pouring concrete into molds attached to scaffolding rising 60 feet.

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