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I Dillied and I Dali-ed in St Pete

Back in 1997, I was lucky enough to visit the Dali museum in Figueres in Spain.  This Theatre-Museum was built upon the remains of the former  Municipal Theatre of Figueres.  The original theatre was designed by the architect Roca i Bros and was constructed between 1849 and 1850.  Sadly, it was destroyed by a fire at the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939.  The shell of the building along with it vestibule and foyer remained as a ruin until Dali chose it as the site of his own museum, which was inaugurated in 1974.

It is a fantastical building topped with a stunning glass geodesic dome and with a beautiful inner courtyard.  The dome is so striking that it has become a symbol of both the museum and the town.  The building is so crazy and the many treasures inside are so surreal, that you’ll feel as though you’ve entered Dali’s mind.

Sep 97 Dali Museum

Reflections of a younger me (on the left!) at the Dali Museum, Figueres, 1997

For fans of Dali on the opposite side of the Atlantic, there is now a similarly fantastical building housing a significant collection of his works in Florida.  The Dali Museum in St Petersburg, was designed by architect Yann Weymouth of HOK and opened in January 2011.

Weymouth described the planned building as “a treasure box,” explaining that  “a treasure box needs to be about what is within it.”


The building comprises a simple rectangle with 18-inch thick hurricane-proof walls, boldly adorned with a large free-form geodesic glass “dome” known as the “enigma”.  The glass structure bursts from the roof of the building and flows down the walls in a remarkable tribute to the iconic dome in Figueres.  It is made up of 1062 triangular pieces of glass and stands 75 feet tall at its highest point.


Inside there is a stunning staircase, and outside beautiful gardens, featuring stone that recalls many of Dali’s painted landscapes plus a mysterious grotto with tropical plants and running water.  The views from inside, looking out through the enigma to the gardens and the sea beyond, are delightful.


The “treasure box” that is the Dali Museum, houses 96 of Dali’s oil paintings, along with a significant archive library devoted to the works of Dali.

For more of a peek at the gardens and, specifically, the Wish Tree go here.


23 replies »

  1. Thank you for this, fascinating info and fantastic photos!

    I like some Dali, but I can’t recommend the gallery of his works by Westminster Bridge in London. A lot of aggressive sexual imagery more than wit and art in a windowless space left me claustrophobic and somehow tainted rather than uplifted.


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