Thursday, March 8, 2018

St. Petersburg, Part the Second

After thoroughly stuffing our eyeballs with glass art at the Imagine Museum (click for post), we enjoyed a delicious hot lunch at a Venezuelan cafe before attempting to find parking for our second attraction, the Dali Museum. It turns out the course of this weekend's Formula 1 grand prix runs right by the museum, whose parking garage is being used to house all the trailers, so we wandered around 1st Avenue South before encountering 2nd Avenue North East and the free parking. The website I found via the museum's Facebook promised a "Dali Trolley," but we had to settle for a shuttle bus.

The museum itself began as the personal collection of Reynolds and Eleanor Morse, who developed a friendly patronage with Salvador (1904-1989) and Gala Dali (1894-1982). After 40 years of private enjoyment, the Morses donated it to St. Petersburg, which wanted to host a new museum. The first building opened in 1982. The new building--with an undulating geodesic glass and steel dome protruding through 18-inch-thick hurricane-proof concrete walls--opened in 2011. At its heart is a spirally concrete staircase that captures the mathematical, natural, and whimsical characteristics of so much of Dali's art.

Our first task was to secure "golden tickets" to the Dreams of Dali virtual reality exhibit by staking out the booth on the 3rd floor. The museum has taken Dali's Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s “Angelus” and made a 3-minute audiovisual experience. You put on glasses and headphones and explore the painting, which includes "Easter eggs" from his other works, while a soundtrack plays. It was pretty neat. What you see is projected on a large flat screen tv for the people waiting in line to enjoy. We snapped pics of each other (below). Afterward, we found the original painting in the gallery, and I was somewhat surprised to discover that its mood is possibly more hopeful. I guess because it's a "dreamscape" the video is cast in dark, noir-ish tones, but the central hue of the painting is orangish, although of dusk or dawn it's hard to say.

I got a free audio guide to listen to clips about the architecture. We walked the labyrinth in the Avant-garden (ha!) outside. We followed a docent around the special exhibit on Marcel Duchamp and Dali and were surprised to learn that Duchamp's famous urinal was "created" in 1917. By the time we found The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory--Dali's famous "melty clocks" painting--we were tired of walking and more than happy to get back to the shuttle stop and our rental car. Unenthused about a 1.5-hour commute through rushhour traffic home (twice what our morning trip had taken), we stopped for ice cream at a mom-and-pop stand before driving the last 45 minutes.

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