There are three Dalí museums in Spain: the Theater Museum in Figueres; the Salvador Dalí house in Portlligat (Cadaqués) and the Gala Dalí Castle in Púbol. If you want to visit the three museums you must take into account the fact that each one is 40 kilometers away from the other. It may take you two days to visit the three museums as there is so much to see and it is best to spend the night in a hotel in Figueres.
We stay in a hotel in Barcelona and we went to Figueres for the day. You can go by bus or RENFE train that takes between one hour and fifty minutes to two hours and twenty minutes. It is a frequent route so there are many departures during the day.
As the Salvador Dalí Theater Museum is so popular, you must buy your ticket on the website before visiting. There are a limited number of tickets per hour. If you do not book in advance you may have to wait if it is very crowded. If you are in the United States, you can also visit the Dalí museum in St. Petersburg, Florida that was made by a couple who was a fan of the artist.
The Theater Museum is the largest surrealist work in the world
This museum is the third most popular in all of Spain, after the Prado in Madrid and Guggenheim in Bilbao. Figureres is the town where Salvador Dalí was born and the museum is in front of the church of San Pedro, where he was baptized.
The artist and the mayor collaborated in 1960 to transform a theater that was destroyed during the Spanish civil war. Originally the mayor asked him to donate a piece and Dalí replied that he would donate a whole museum. In 1968, the City Council approved the plan, and construction began the following year. The architects Joaquim de Ros i Ramis and Alexandre Bonaterra were hired. In the theater there is a plaque that commemorates the original architect, Josep Roca i Bros, who built the building in 1850.
It finally opened its doors to the public on September 28, 1974. In the 1980s they bought the surrounding buildings to expand the Theater Museum.
The museum was Dalí’s great personal project, who took care of all the design and planning. His idea was that the visitor could enter his world. It is definitely completly different from any other museum you have visited in your life. This project was so important for Dalí, that the artist’s crypt is under the stage.
The dome above the building represents the eye of a fly. There are giant eggs on the roof. Above the entrance is a statue of an ancient diver’s suit, surrounded by statues that appear to be dressed in medieval armor suits balancing baguette bread on their head.
This square in front of the Theater Museum has attracted other artists who will sell their pieces to all the tourists that visit.
There are many people waiting to enter, sitting in the fountains and benches.
Art created for the museum
One of my favorite rooms was the huge inner courtyard that has a statue of Queen Esther with a ship on her head. The boat has what looks like water drops, made of blue condoms covered in resin.
The Cadillac at her feet supposedly belonged to Al Capone before Dalí bought it.
This space used to be the auditorium where the audience sat. He took off the roof and opened it. Around there are golden statues in the old windows of the balconies surrounded by walls covered with ivy.
Many of the works were created specifically for the Theater Museum including the famous face of actress Mae West that only appears from a particular angle. This portrait is made of furniture including a sofa in the form of the lips of the actress. It is probably one of the most photographed parts of the museum.
Gala, Dalí’s wife and muse appears many times, usually in nude paintings. One very particular is “Nude Gala watching the sea” that seen 18 meters away becomes President Lincoln.
As Salvador Dalí liked to express himself in various media, you can see his fashion designs, furniture, photos, sculptures, optical illusions, stereography and anamorphic art. The Theater Museum has a large collection of 1,500 works by the artist, including his latest oil painting, “Swallowtail”. Do not expect to see all his most famous works, as they are scattered all over the world.
Dalí starts making jewelry
One of the permanent exhibits at the Theater Museum is the collection of jewels designed by Salvador Dalí. It is not necessary to buy another ticket to see the collection, as it is included. To enter you must go through another door as it is in an annex of the main building.
When you have access to prime raw material and the mind of a genius, you can achieve truly unique pieces. His inspiration came from Renaissance artists, when the artisan’s experience was more important than the material value of gold and stones. The first time he ventures into the world of jewelry design, he does so with Duke Fulco di Verdura of Sicily. In 1941, his first jewelry collection was exhibited at the Julien Levy gallery and then at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Then in the 50s he made another collection with the help of the Argentine jeweler Carlos B. Alemany. These tendencies of the second part of Salvador Dalí’s life were not as popular with critics as his melted clocks and lanky elephants. Today, this facet of his life is considered advanced for the times and precursor of pop art of the 1960s.
Collection of jewels from the Theater Museum
The collection is spread over two floors that are also home to 27 paper works made by Dalí inspired by jewelry designs. You can see thirty-nine gold jewels and precious stones that were acquired by the Owen Cheatham Foundation and two that were made later. All jewels were Salvador Dalí’s creations produced between 1941 and 1970.
The pieces were made with precious stones (emeralds, diamonds, sapphires, aquamarines, rubies, topazes, etc.), gold, platinum, corals, pearls, and other materials. The artist’s mind makes really beautiful works, including hearts, lips, eyes, plants and animals. In addition to religious and mythological interpretations anthropomorphic symbols and forms.
Photos of the jewels:
Who was Salvador Dalí?
Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, better known as Salvador Dalí was a famous surrealist painter born in 1904 in Figueres which is part of Catalonia in Spain. He said he came from the Moors and therefore had Arab lineage. This was his excuse to justify his love for the excessive and luxurious. Then a mustache was grown that became an important part of his image.
He had an older brother who died within months of birth and his parents decided to name him after the dead brother, telling him that he was his reincarnation. At 16 his mother dies of breast cancer and the father marries the sister of the mother. He went to Madrid to study but was thrown out of school supposedly for causing problems. In Paris he met Picasso, who had heard from the young artist by Joan Miró, another Catalan painter. Both Picasso and Miró influenced Dalí’s creations.
Dalí finds his muse
In 1929 he met Elena Ivanovna Diakonova better known as Gala. She was Russian, married and 10 years older. This did not matter, since the artist was smitten and began an affair with her. They bought a small fisherman’s cabin in Port Lligat, which they later expanded and is currently a museum. They lasted together more than 50 years despite Dalí’s infidelity.
By this time, Salvador Dalí was officially part of the surrealist movement. In 1931, he painted his most famous work “The Persistence of Memory” where watches melt as if they were Camembert cheese, which was the source of inspiration. Later in 1934 he was tried and expelled from the surrealist movement, but this does not matter to Dalí, who said “I am surrealism myself.”
During World War II the couple moved to the United States and ventured into other media such as jewelry. In 1948 they return to Spain, while other Spanish artists and intellectuals lived in exile because Franco’s dictatorship.
Years later Dalí buys a castle in Púbol for Gala, which is also a museum. As of 1971 she began spending time alone on this site, causing Dalí’s health to worsen and fall into depression. Gala dies in 1982 and Dalí loses his desire to live. Apparently there were several possible failed suicide attempts. In that same year, King Juan Carlos gives him the title of Marquis Dalí de Púbol. Salvador Dalí dies of heart failure in 1989 at the age of 84.