The Dalí Museum requires visitors to purchase tickets in advance (with slotted times for arrivals) and wear face masks, and is operating at reduced capacity. Check all museums’ websites for updates and Florida's Department of Health for current COVID-19 guidelines before visiting. Also note current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for travelers.
Few U.S. towns blend such a walkable downtown area — full of bayfront parks and cute outdoor cafés — with the high-quality museum offerings of St. Petersburg, a Gulf Coast city locals simply call St. Pete (and you should, too). It counts roughly 10 museums among its ranks, with several of them clustered within walking distance of one another around the downtown waterfront, on Bayshore Drive and off Central Avenue, St. Pete's main retail and restaurant drag.
The city's star cultural attraction is the Salvador Dalí Museum, whose collection of 2,400 Dalí works comprise the largest Dalí collection outside of the surrealist painter's native Spain. It includes many of the artist's writings, watercolors, drawings and painting masterpieces, more than 80 of which the museum displays at any given time. All are housed inside an extraordinary building that mixes hurricane-proof concrete with the Enigma, an eye-catching, freeform geodesic glass dome.
Explore the three-story museum, about a 10-minute stroll south along Bayshore Drive from downtown, from the top down. You can take the elevator up, but if you're physically able, climb the striking helical staircase instead. Making the climb will put you in a Dalí mindset, as the staircase pays homage to the master's obsession with the DNA molecule's double helical shape.
The top floor is where you'll find its two galleries. The James Family Wing is home to Dalí's creations, including eight of his masterworks. More than 5 feet long, The Hallucinogenic Toreador, created in 1969–70, mixes multiple images of Venus de Milo's body and a toreador's face. Examine the painting closely and you'll see how Dalí masterfully used shadows to form features such as the toreador's lips and chin, and Venus’ body to form his cheek. More details reveal themselves the longer you study the work.
Another must-see: The Weaning of Furniture-Nutrition (1934), a surreal meditation on the word “weaning” that depicts an aging version of Dalí's childhood nurse, Lucia, who weaned the artist from his mother. Lucia sits in the evocative coastal landscape that was the backdrop for Dalí's childhood, with a boat on the beach looking so real it almost appears 3D. Peer closer at Lucia's body and you'll see a nightstand from Dalí's childhood room, said to refer to his weaning from the attachments of his youth.
This second gallery features special exhibitions that often showcase heralded names such as da Vinci, Kahlo, Magritte, Picasso and Warhol. An immersive experience on view through June 13, “Van Gogh Alive” consists of several rooms with floor-to-ceiling screens on which the story of the Dutch impressionist's tumultuous life plays out through his artwork, all set to a soundtrack of both classical and contemporary music.
And beginning May 1, the 130 images in “The Woman Who Broke Boundaries: Photographer Lee Miller” will put the spotlight on the groundbreaking female photographer who captured history-making moments, including the liberation of Paris and Germany during World War II.