Thus was born a phenomenal legacy!
Fast forward a few more decades (yes, I’m doing a lot of time travel today; after all, this is a travel blog!), past that first plain, thick-walled marine equipment warehouse turned museum; past the loss of St. Petersburg’s wealthy benefactors; in fact, march right past the 20th century into the new millennium, right up to 1-11-11 at 1:11 am (a nod to Dali’s love of mathematics, perhaps?), to the grand opening of one of the world’s preeminent museums.
I was still star struck!
“Our challenge was to discover how to resolve the technical requirements of the museum and site in a way that expresses the dynamism of the great art movement that he [Dali] led. It is important that the building speak to the surreal without being trite.”
Think 15-times-15 years of fame for team Weymouth’s accomplishment!
I wandered for 15 minutes (I kid you not) outside this huge “treasure box,” taking in the geodesic glass “Enigma” that came with a companion “Igloo.” Both additions to Weymouth’s creation adorn this 58-foot tall box like a glittering piece of jewelry, catching and reflecting the sunlight, adding a little bling and a lot of mystery to an otherwise drab package.
FYI – one of Dali’s paintings is named, Enigma. There are layers upon layers of nods to what intrigued and inspired the master behind this waterfront wonder.
But there’s MORE!
Soaring three stories up into the sky beneath that one-of-a-kind geodesic dome was a poured-in-place concrete spiral staircase as stunning as it was unexpected. The helical staircase is an allusion to Dali’s fascination with all of nature’s spiral forms and to that of the double helix of DNA.
This remarkable fortress, designed to withstand the 165-mph winds of a Category 5 hurricane, is a fitting and phenomenal backdrop for the priceless Dali collection wisely housed on the third floor, above the flood-plain, above the possibility of a 30-foot-high storm surge.
Least you think the geodesic geometry is a reckless design element given the propensity for Florida’s bad weather, consider this: the triangulated glass panels are one-and-a-half inches thick, insulated and laminated and designed to resist the 135 mph winds, driven rain and missile impacts of a Category 3 hurricane.
I know; it all blew me away, too, especially Dali's art!
And thank you St. Petersburg!
THE BOTTOM LINE ON ST. PETE’S DALI MUSEUM
Verdict: Surreal is the best way to sum up St. Petersburg’s masterpiece in honor of the master. Based on my experience, and AOL Travel News, St. Pete’s Dali Museum is indeed one of the top buildings to see in your lifetime.
A general admission ticket will set you back $21; over 65, $19; children 13-17 and 18-year-olds with student ID, $15; children 6-12, $13, children under 5 free.
From Clearwater, take U.S. 19 southbound and follow to 1st Avenue South in St. Petersburg. Take a left onto 1st Avenue South. Follow 1st Ave S to 4th Street South. Take a right onto 4th Street South. Follow 4th St S to Dali Blvd (aka: 5th Ave S) Take a left onto Dali Blvd (aka: 5th Ave S) Dali Museum will be on your left after 3rd light.
From Sarasota, take I-75 N to I-275 northbound across the Sunshine Skyway (toll cost $1.25) to St. Petersburg. Take exit #22 (I-175 E) towards Tropicana Field Follow I-175 until end, turns into Dali Blvd (aka: 5th Ave S) Dali Museum will be on your left after 4th light.
Insider Information: The City of St. Petersburg offers Dali Hotel Packages in the Bay Area that include Salvador Dali Hospitality tickets to the Museum. Check the Dali Museum website for specific offers.
I’d have to admit, my first experience with Salvador Dali (yes, I was a cultural misfit for my first sixty years) left me convinced the artist was quite mad. To quote Dali, “There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad.”
Who's to say what's genius and what's insanity.