The world’s largest collection of art by Salvador Dalí is, logically, in his hometown of Figueres, Spain. But the second largest collection devoted to the world’s most famous surrealist is on display alongside the waterfront of St. Petersburg, Florida. Melting clocks, spindle-legged horses, and waxed mustaches abound, and the building itself is a surreal sight to behold.
St. Petersburg has been home to the Dalí Museum since 1982, when the extensive collection of Reynolds and Eleanor Morse was moved from their home town of Cleveland. Its original warehouse location was replaced in 2011 by the current expanded museum, now home to over 2,000 works. Florida’s “Sunshine City” (where the local paper once promised a free copy if the sun wasn’t shining) is a fitting home for Dalí’s art, especially as it’s exhibited in the new museum. There are massive bubble-like skylights and wall-lights that wrap the building, the sun streaming through 900 oddly geometric windows. The effect, combined with the swirling central staircase and fluid, organic nature of Dalí’s paintings, creates a feeling of walking around inside a living being. And yes, it feels a little surreal.
Visitors can see seven of Dalí’s masterworks, including “The Hallucinogenic Toreador” and “The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus,” as well scores of other paintings, drawings, sculptures, films, and photographs. There are also frequent visiting collections from other iconoclasts, past exhibitions having featured Andy Warhol, M.C. Escher, and Pablo Picasso.
The Museum is open every day and offers a full calendar of special events for children and adults—all bubble-wrapped in some surreal sunshine.