Best Florida Art Museum? Salvador Dali Museum St. Petersburg, Florida
If you are planning a vacation to the west coast of Florida, specifically to the Tampa/St. Pete region, one spot on your list of sightseeing should be the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg -- it is acclaimed as the best art museum in Florida (the only one awarded 3 diamonds by AAA in the south). Modern art is not everyone's cup of tea, but Dali is just odd enough, just talented enough, just interesting enough, that his work really appeals to just about everyone who sees it. And his works have had such an impact on 20th century art, that you may recognize pieces of it without even noticing it (like the dripping timepieces -- a Dali original). Anyways, if you are in the Tampa/St. Pete are, be sure to set aside an hour to drop in -- apart from the gorgeous beaches nearby, this might be the best way to spend an hour!
Salvador Dali Museum - Map, Directions, Hours
The Dali Museum is located in St. Petersburg right along the eastern waterfront. Where is the Dali Museum? From the I-275 (main freeway from Tampa), take exit #22 towards Tropicana Field (east). This is also called I-75, though it is a short-lived highway. Follow it 3/4 of a mile or so until it ends, then turn right onto 3rd St -- about 1/2 mile down, you will see the Dali Museum on the left side of the road (1000 Third Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701). Don't pull into the front of the museum to park -- it is just a circle with handicap parking. Instead, park in the lot on the right, or go just past the museum and turn left into the rear parking lot. Parking is free in all these lots. There official website is SalvadorDaliMuseum.org
if you want to check out more details. How much are tickets to the Dali Museum? It's not cheap - general admission is $15, seniors $13.50, children 5-9 are $4. The one deal of the week is Thursday nights 5-8PM, when admission is just $5. As a patron of the arts, we love to see museums offering 1 day of week free of charge, and children free all the time. Art is first and foremost about exposure -- letting people see it and appreciate it. Second, it is about money. For example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York offers admission based upon a "suggested donation" -- if you can't afford it, you can just ask for free tickets, or pay 50 cents or whatever you can afford. Think about it, all you museums out there, especially for children. You can see a map of St. Petersburg here
(scroll down and zoom towards the bottom right, the Dali Museum is south of the airport icon for Albert Whitted Airport). When is the Dali Museum open? They are open 9:30-5:30 MTW, 9:30am-8pm on Thurs, Friday 9:30am-6:30pm, Saturday 9:30am- 5:30pm, and Sunday 12 noon - 5:30pm.
Visiting the Salvador Dali Museum
There are 6 docent-led tours each day -- these are hour-long free tours. If you have the time and can coincide your visit with one of these tours, we highly recommend them. Just looking at art can be fulfilling for many, but hearing the stories and histories and importance behind these works makes them all the more meaningful. Dali employs a number of interesting techniques in his works, like optical illusions. You look at his paintings one way and you see one thing, you focus another way and you see something else. This makes Dali art fun, and sometimes you need help in having the details pointed out to you. The musuem in Florida is the most comprehensive collection of Dali's work anywhere -- it features nearly 100 oil paintings, 100 watercolors, and more than 1000 photos, graphics, and sculptures. One thing you may not expect -- not all paintings are the size you might think! You'll find some paintings are no larger than a piece of notebook paper, while some fill entire walls. Most of us see these works in an artbook - but seeing them in person is a totally different experience. On our recent visit, they had a special exhibit called "Dali-wood", which explored Dali's work and collaboration with Hollywood (did you know he planned a short film with Disney?, or that his imagery and influence is seen in the dream sequences of the 1945 Gregory Peck film "Spellbound"?). The museum store is also excellent, packed with all kinds of Dali goodies - umbrellas, clocks, books, plates, you name it, they probably have it.