Monday, April 4, 2011

Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL

In preparation for my trip to Florida, since I knew that I would be going to the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, I downloaded Un Chein Andalou on NetFlix. I thought it would get me the mood for going to the museum. This movie, by Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel, was thought to be shocking when it premiered in 1928. Seventy plus years later, and it still has an air of shock, humor, and the absurd.

I have been reading for several months about the opening of the new museum designed by HOK. It opened on January 11, 2011 at 11:11am.

Since a business trip had me in the area, I drove there after going to see the BOK Tower Gardens. The building is striking in person. I walked around it and there are interesting views from every angle. They also did a good job of landscaping the grounds around the public space.

Costing a mere 28.5 million dollars (ha!), it took three years to construct. The juxtaposition between the concrete and glass makes sense in relation to Salvador Dali's work.

Image via Google Images
He often had these balances between hard lines and soft or melting images. I think he would have approved of the absurd placement of the bulbous glass forms.

This is the only photo I got from inside the museum. One of the guards hunted me down and told me no photos are allowed to be taken inside. While I really like the exterior of the building, I am disappointed with the interior. The stats list that the interior is 68,000 sq ft. It is hard to imagine that is the actual size. When you first walk in, you enter through the gift shop. It seems inappropriate. You think you are there to see art, but you immediately feel like the museum has nothing to do with art and only with pushing merchandise. Then, you have to battle your way through the store to get to the counter to buy your ticket, which costs $25.00! I know they have to pay for the museum somehow, but it felt over priced; especially when I discovered that the galleries were only on the top floor and maybe covered 20,000 sq ft.

I was happy to see such a concentrated amount of Salvador Dali's work together. I have always been on the fence with his work. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I hate it. What I did love about one of the galleries is that they showed his early work when he was a teenager. You got to see him trying out different genres and practicing his technique. It was tight connect to the large masterpieces he did later in life.

There is a living wall installation on the way into and exiting the gift shop. I mean museum...

Overall, the building by HOK does stand up to the positive press it has received. How the museum is set up and run stands entirely aside from the structure, but does impact a visitor's experience with the building.

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