This post was written for us by a homeschool mom in Florida.
The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida is a perfect place to take your whole family, and incorporate some educational time for homeschooling, while having a fun day and seeing something totally new.
We have visited more than one time as homeschoolers and every time seen some new things but also have loved to see some of the same things and enjoy the outdoor area again as well. The museum is for sure kid-friendly and does not give you the cold, snooty feel that some art museums tend to put off. They are welcoming for kids and the staff is very friendly.
To begin, I would say that paying attention to detail pays off in this place, from the entrance to the exit. The whole experience is unlike any other place you’ve been and knowing that going in may help you see more than you would’ve.
The first thing to see, once you pay and go through the entry, is the central staircase that leads all the way up to the top floor. It is shaped like DNA, double helix, and is awesome from the floor view, as well as the top view. Make sure when you get to the top floor that you go out to the window side and see out to the boats and marinas, and get a good look down on the back area of the museum and gardens. Viewing the glass panes on the back is really neat form this angle.
Before heading upstairs (or up the elevator if stairs aren’t your thing), get a headset for each person to use as your tour guide, unless you are doing a led tour though the museum. It shares a lot of great information that you would never get on your own just from looking at the paintings. Dali’s mind was a wild place to be and his talent as a painter was phenomenal. This museum is truly a treasure and we are blessed to have it to visit.
One other thing you will want to ask for, if they do not offer it, is the scavenger hunt that they have for the kids to do. It’s really well done, but not overly difficult, either. It educates them on the more interesting facts about Dali and his paintings but on a level they will appreciate. It is good to know, in case of whining, that they will get a choice from several different prizes at the end when they show the completed hunt to the staff, and they are nice items!
The museum, most times has not just the main Dali exhibit, but a second one where they feature another artist also. I have seen this four different times and each time come away so impressed. It is a perfect way to do an artist biography in your schooling, especially if you know ahead of time who is being featured when you go. You’re getting two artists in one day.
Be sure that you take your time viewing his extra-large paintings and listening in on the details and hidden things in them. They are unbelievable in person, and to be honest, his very small ones are the same way, as far as the talent. You can’t believe how tiny he could paint some of these things and with photo- realism.
As far as what else you can do while there, in addition to the exhibits, there is a café and a gift shop to see before heading out to the awesome garden area.
The gift shop has many collectible items, all sorts of books, and some great educational things. They have a children’s section in the shop, too.
If you haven’t already heard the history and details about the back side of the building, be sure to have someone on the staff fill you in. Then, go out and check it out. The shapes are so neat and not one is the same size. We always tend to linger awhile out in the garden. There is just something relaxing and still entertaining about it, and it tends to not be crowded either.
There is a maze can all go through together, it is very fun, but also not too lengthy, so if you are there in the heat, don’t worry that it will take too terribly long.
There are also some fun tiles in the grass that represent mathematical things and is a neat feature for the kids to play on.
One of the best parts out there is a banyan tree in the center of the garden area where people take off their entry bracelets, make a wish, and tie them to the tree. Seeing the different colors if really neat and how many of them there are.
There are some other really neat details all over this area, like a giant mustache sculpture, “melting” bench, and a metal bird that has a Dali mustache. Make sure you explore it well.
If your kids need to burn a little energy before you head out, this is the perfect spot to do that.
Overall, between the pure artistic talent you will have been a witness to, the genius of knowing even a little of Dali’s mind and his math fascination and other insights, I think you will find the museum to be a place you will glean a lot from and want to visit again.