According to local legend, St.Petersburg co-founders John C. Williams and Peter Demens flipped a coin to see who would name their new city. Peter Demens won and named it St. Petersburg after the Russian city of his birth.
Florida was paradise after the long, cold, dark Russian winters of Demens youth. With a temperate sub-tropical climate and 360 days of sunshine each year, St.Petersburg deserves it’s nickname, “The Sunshine City”. Surrounded by Tampa Bay to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west, St. Petersburg has access to miles of white sand beaches along the Gulf.
If beautiful beaches and warm weather were all St. Pete’s had to offer, the story would end here. But there’s more. St. Petersburg has the largest Salvador Dali collection outside Europe.
How did a mid-sized Florida city snag such a large treasure?
The story begins with Reynolds and Eleanor Morse of Cleveland Ohio, lifelong patrons of Salvador Dali. They wanted to donate their collection to a major museum with one condition – that the collection be kept intact. No American museum would honor their stipulation. When a determined group of St. Petersburg’s prominent citizens persuaded the Florida government to find two million dollars to create a new museum, the Morses agreed to move their collection to St. Petersburg.
The new Dali Museum, designed by Yann Weymouth, fuses the rational with the fantastical: a simple concrete rectangle out of which erupts a large free-form geodesic glass bubble known as the “enigma.” The art works sit above the flood plane behind reinforced 18” thick concrete walls, built to resist a Category 5 hurricane and 165 mph winds.
The new museum, ranked by AOL Travel as one of the “10 Buildings to See Before You Die”, contains works from Dali’s entire career (1904-1989) including key pieces from every period in every medium.
Anchored by the Dali Museum, downtown St Petersburg is also home to the Museum of Fine Arts and The Chihuly Collection. The latter, opened in July 2010, features the first permanent collection of free-blown and sculptural glass works from master glass artist, Dale Chihuly. More than two dozen art galleries, local professional theaters, performing arts centers and the Florida Orchestra headquarters round out the impressive arts offerings in the Sunshine City.
The Dali Museum
One Dali Blvd St. Petersburg, FL USA 33701