A. Reynolds Morse and Eleanor Reese met at a concert in Cleveland, Ohio in the early 1940s and during their courtship visited a Salvador Dali exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Not only did they fall in love with each other but with Dali’s works as well.
They bought their first Dali painting in 1943 as a wedding present to each other and became obsessed with all things Dali. They eventually came to own the largest collection of the artist’s creations outside the Theatre-Museum Dali in Figueres, Spain where Dali was born and is buried. The Morses met and befriended Dali and his wife Gala, often visiting them at their home in Port Lligat.
The Morses’ 2000 works outgrew their home so they founded a Salvador Dali Museum in a wing of Reynolds Morse’s business, the Injection Molders Supply Company. By the late 1970s, fear of estate taxes breaking up the collection led them to offer it to any Museum that would keep it intact. The city of St. Petersburg stepped up and offered to do so in a former Marine Storage House. The Museum was such a success that a new $36 million building, beautifully situated on Tampa Bay, was opened last year. Designed by Yann Weymouth of HOK, who worked with I.M.Pei on the Louvre’s glass pyramid, it is a magnificent rectangle with 18” hurricane-proof walls out of which projects a 75-foot tall free-form geodesic glass bubble made of 1062 triangular pieces of glass and known as the “glass enigma”. It “pays homage to Dali’s free-flowing imagination and represents the artist’s blend of classical and fantastical styles”. Dali wanted “to make the abnormal look normal and the normal look abnormal”.
Dali’s fixation with spirals and the double helical shape of the DNA molecule is marked by the Museum’s unique helical staircase that twists up to its third floor galleries. The remarkable collection includes works by Dali from the age of 13, through his flirtations with Cubism, Impressionism, even Realism, until he hit his stride embracing Surrealism. The 96 paintings are all always on display along with a selection of his drawings and prints that number in the thousands.
Among the highlights are Dali’s: “Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire”, “Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea Which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln”, “The Persistence of Memory”, “The Hallucinogenic Toreador”, “The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus”, “Velasquez Painting the Infanta Margarita with the Lights and Shadows of His Own Glory”.
Hours: Daily except Thursdays and Sundays: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
Thursday: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Sunday: 12 Noon – 5:30 PM
Admission: Adults: $21. includes free audio guide and hourly tours
Thursdays after 5:00 PM: $10.
Discounts for Seniors, Children, Military, Police and Firefighters
Location: 1 Dali Boulevard, St. Petersburg, Florida
Tel: (727) 823-3767 www.thedali.org