When my plans to the U.S. were finalized, I immediately looked into the government website of St. Pete, Florida, and see what places it recommends to visitors. I was quite surprised to learn that St. Pete is home to the museum with the second largest collection of Salvador Dali art works — next to the museum in his home town in Figueres, Spain.
Why are Dali arts in St. Pete, you may ask? Because that was the first question that popped into my mind. Apparently, the museum’s website have the answer to that question and there are also docent tours where you can ask freely anything about the museum, Dali, and his arts.
My aunt and I first went into the “This is Not Art” exhibit of Dali and Marcel Duchamp’s arts, works and friendship. Among the three museums I visited in the U.S. this time, The Dali Museum was the best because it was small and intimate. The “This is Not Art” exhibit was informative and truly showed the intimacy of the friendship between Dali (a Surrealist) and Duchamp (“father of conceptual art”). The two artists collaborated on art that I found funny and rebellious (like that mocking art of the Mona Lisa). They made art of ordinary things and made fun of high street/classical art. Both artists connected well with people. In fact, a note in the exhibit said Dali may have been the first “artist celebrity.” The exhibit was strictly no photographs though but you would expect nudes and eroticism (both men were fascinated with Duchamp even having a female alter ego named), and mock of conventional beliefs (such as religion).
In the opposite room was the permanent exhibit of Dali’s art. I really like it when an artist’s work is exhibited in chronological order because then I would be able to see his/her evolution, and I love looking at an artist’s evolution because I believe an artist is made. I want to know when the artist found the style or if the artist didn’t. Some artists stick to one style, some artists don’t. And I enjoy knowing this. There was also a free docent tour in this gallery, which we were able to participate in. The tour guide was very chatty and knowledgeable of Dali and his art and the museum and the history of the museum. I think the tour guide said the Morses, who were the founders of the museum, shared their notes on Dali to the guides. Adding to the great exhibits are the fascinating architecture of the museum building, the wonderful view of the ocean at the front, and the Dali merchandise at the museum shop (I especially love the collaboration with Elsa Shiaparelli). I truly think the $24 entrance fee ($10 every Thursday after 5PM) is worth it.