Discovering the genius that was Salvador Dali
By PAMELA BARKER
Community Reporter/Social Media Editor
North Palm Beach Life
Related: A Dali Museum 'Selfie'
ST. PETERSBURG -- Did you ever take a road trip and have the desire to find a gigantic, outdoor mustache?
Did you ever write down a very special wish, and then have no place to hang it?
Did you ever wish you could experience something Disney without going to a theme park?
Did you ever meet someone who wanted to leave their corporate job to find something more personally fulfilling?
So many questions, but we found the answers to these questions, and more, when we decided it was time to roll out of the Palm Beaches for a road trip.
There we were, on the Gulf side of the peninsula, and we had the opportunity to sit down for an enlightening interview at the world-famous Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.
It began with another question.
You, know how life has a way of nudging us in a direction we never planned? Such was the case when Kathy Greif, Marketing Director of The Salvador Dali Museum, decided to step away from the whirlwind that was her corporate life to seek an avenue more personally rewarding.
"That plan lasted less than 24 hours," Ms. Greif shared with us at a table in the bustling Gala Cafe (so named for the spouse of Dali), which is located on the first floor of the architecturally striking, waterfront museum.
"I left my corporate job, and then received a call that a marketing position was opening up at the museum. I was interested. But, it took about three months for me to actually begin in this position."
For those familiar with the work of Spanish artist, Salvador Dali, who died on Jan. 23, 1989, or those who are experiencing his genius for the first time, there are many ways to immerse and educate yourself at this impressive facility, including an amazing 3D experience utilizing virtual reality, "Dreams of Dali."
The museum houses, "not the largest, but the most comprehensive collection of Dali works," Ms. Greif said.
Of course, the largest collection resides in Spain, the home country of the artist.
In addition to the current exhibit, "Disney and Dali: Architects of the Imagination," which runs through June 12, "there is something here for every age," Ms. Greif said. "We are very family-oriented."
For example, there is "Storytime for Families," featuring books chosen from the Dali Museum and store. Cost is free.
For a more adult-themed adventure, mark your calendar for the "Los Vinos de Dali" on April 10, from 4-7 pm. Hosted by The Guild Committee, the event features music, tapas from area restaurants and boutique wines. Cost is $75 per person. For more information, contact Sooky Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727-523-4777. Proof of age is required.
If your taste leans toward something musically classical, "Opera At the Dali" is performed on the spiral staircase each month. Catch the next performance on March 17, from 6-6:30 pm. Cost is free.
During the months of June, July and August, the museum hosts "Cult Classics," an outdoor movie venue, where movies such as Pulp Fiction are shown.
"The outdoor films are very popular, very well-attended," Ms. Greif said.
For those seeking art with a more casual atmosphere than opera or a wine tasting, there is a fun beer tasting.
A quick glance at the museum event calendar and you will see it jam-packed, with a wide variety of topics. They offer films, workshops, and even "Coffee with a Curator."
As a noisy crowd bustled around us in the cafe, Ms. Greif said, "The year 2015 broke attendance records, even surpassing 2011, the year this new facility opened." They attract over 400,000 visitors a year.
In order to keep interest at the highest level possible, Ms. Greif said the museum staff works in conjunction with the Convention and Visitors Bureau for promotion to local Floridians, as well as out-of-state visitors.
She added, "Billboards are very effective, as well as television, newspapers and digital advertising. But, it really depends on the exhibit."
With a staff of 75, and a strong volunteer force, everyone is kept busy.
"It is a team effort, very collaborative between all museum departments, and the volunteer force. There is a lot of trust and respect," she said. It shows. The museum, both inside and out, is impressive and reflects the genius that was Salvador Dali and his life.
Be sure to linger in the Gift Shop,where according to Ms. Greif, some of the items are only available on-site. (I was disappointed to find they had Dali-inspired wine goblets, but no martini glasses. Maybe next time.)
While on the grounds of the garden, you can't miss the iconic Dali moustache. There is a break right in the center so posing there for a photo is quite popular.
Near the moustache is the "Wish Tree," with thousands of museum wrist bands flying in the breeze. It seems the tree has roots in Hindu and Scottish traditions. On each band visitors have written their wish and tied it to the tree. Each year, on Veteran's Day, selected wishes are read aloud.
So, there you have it. questions answered, until our next road trip.
'Dreams of Dali'
"Go inside and beyond Dali’s 1935 painting Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s “Angelus”and explore the world of the surrealist master like never before. Adventure into the towers, peer from them to distant lands, and discover surprises around every corner—in a way we can only imagine Dali may have dreamed. Dreams of Dali is a fully immersive 3-D environment available to visitors (free with admission) in the Disney and Dali: Architects of the Imagination exhibit now through June 12, 2016."