New Florida museum has largest Dali collection outside Spain

Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:57am EST
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By Robert Green

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Reuters Life!) - Some of Salvador Dali's most famous paintings have a new home in Florida with the opening of a $36 million museum designed to reflect the Spanish painter's surreal style.

The Dali museum was officially opened on Tuesday in St. Petersburg with Cristina, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca and the daughter of Spain's King and Queen, cutting the ribbon.

"It's a great day for the world of art," Jorge Dezcallar, Spain's ambassador to the United States, said at the ceremony.

The new building houses the largest collection of Dali's work outside of Spain with 96 oil paintings and over 2,000 other pieces of his art. It is twice the size of the old museum, a converted warehouse, which opened in 1982.

Among the prominent paintings in the collection are "The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory", "The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus", "Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea ... Portrait of Abraham Lincoln", Daddy Long Legs of the Evening -- Hope", "Eggs on the Plate Without the Plate" and "Portrait of My Dead Brother".

"Works from every period of Dali's career are represented, from his paintings to his works on paper, objects and films. It's a collection that can never be reassembled," Director Hank Hine said in the museum guide.

The paintings and other pieces of art were collected by A. Reynolds and Eleanor Morse of Cleveland, Ohio beginning in 1942. In 1980, the couple were looking for a location for a museum to house all their collection in one place and the city of St. Petersburg agreed to provide one on its waterfront. The museum opened two years later. Reynolds Morse died in 2000 and his wife died last July.

Museum officials had been trying for several years to get a bigger building which would protect the paintings against hurricanes, and ground was finally broken in 2008 eight blocks from the previous location. Money for the museum came from private donations and federal, state and local governments.   Continued...

<p>Security personnel walk outside the third floor galleries after the grand opening and dedication for the new Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, January 11, 2011. REUTERS/Steve Nesius</p>