Six moms head to one of the most mind-blowing museums in the world.

POSTED BY PINKY

When you go to Salvador Dalí’s museum in Figueres, Spain, be prepared to enter the world of a genius.

With a group of women who were either in the creative field or were art enthusiasts – or both (check out how we got to Spain here and where we stayed here), we ladies found a common ground and agreed to spend our one day outside Barcelona in a destination like no other.

After a quick breakfast in a nearby café along the Rambla called Viena, whose signature jamón ibérico sandwiches on flautas (similar to a baguette) food journalist and author Mark Bittman had at one point in time declared in The New York Times as the best sandwich he’s ever had, our own Marc (Malapitan), whose family owns and runs a van transport service in Barcelona, picked us up and drove us to Figueres, less than two hours away. 

Destination: The Dalí Theatre and Museum 

Set in the artist’s hometown of Figueres in Catalunya, Spain, the entire complex itself is the world’s largest surrealist work of art and is considered to be the artist’s last great creation before his death in 1989.

Inaugurated in 1974 and built on what used to be the Municipal Theatre of Figueres, which was destroyed in a fire at the end of the Spanish Civil War, everything was conceptualised and designed by Dalí.

A copy of Dalí’s 1931 work, The Persistence of Memory, on a tapestry hanging down from a wall in the Museum

The museum’s vast collection features the artist’s body of work from pre-1920 until the 1980s, the works of fellow Catalán artists invited to contribute to the museum’s collection, and Dalí’s own personal collection that includes an El Greco.

Make sure to look up at the ceiling!

Here you will notice the progression of Dalí’s artistry, from the impressionist and cubist styles of his earlier years all the way to the surrealist style that he became best-known for. And in a variety of mediums – from drawings, paintings, engravings, and sculptures to installations, holograms, stereoscopes, and photography.

Gala Nude-Lincoln Stereoscope, a fantastic optical illusion for which Dalí was a master

Among the installation works created specifically for the museum, the Mae West Room is perhaps the most recognisable. Climb up a few steps at the foot of the installation and you’ll be able to capture the Hollywood actress’ iconic features from a distance.

Apartment furniture that double up as the face of Mae West

An interesting addition to the Museum’s collection are the Dalí Jewels. These are the actual jewellery designed by the artist, including the drawings and paintings on paper he produced during the design process. It’s in the area on the way to the crypt of the artist, but fear not. Should you decide to visit, you’ll see how this location actually provides the perfect backdrop to highlight these stunning jewels.

Dalí, the Man

Most people (like me) probably wonder what kind of a life a genius like Dalí led. What drove him? Did he have as colourful a personal life as his works would make us believe?

Accounts of Dalí’s life seem to confirm this.

He was obviously sentimental, and we can see this in the reasons he gave for building this Museum in its location:

“Where, if not in my own town, should the most extravagant and solid of my work endure, where if not here? The Municipal Theatre, or what remained of it, struck me as very appropriate, and for three reasons: first, because I am an eminently theatrical painter; second, because the theatre stands right in front of the church where I was baptised; and third, because it was precisely in the entrance hall of the theatre that hosted my first exhibition.”

Quite a character he was, too, with his signature moustache and theatrical poses for the camera. There are also accounts of him arriving in New York harbour in 1934 wearing a life jacket for the entire journey, and traveling by train with all of his paintings attached to him by a string. Or appearing as a guest on the 1950s game show, What’s My Line, where contestants had to guess the profession by asking yes or no questions. Dalí, however, messed up the game entirely by claiming to be a writer, TV personality, athlete, and cartoon artist – all at the same time.

The making of Dalí Atomicus, by photographer Philippe Halsman, a 1948 collaboration (with strings visible).

Salvador i Gala

But perhaps most compelling was his relationship with Gala, the Russian woman Dalí chose to marry at the displeasure of his family, which resulted in complete disinheritance by his father. (They eventually made up.)

Born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, she was ten years older and, when they first met, was still married to Dalí’s friend, French poet Paul Éluard, with whom she had a daughter. In fact, she had had other extramarital affairs prior to her dalliance with Dalí, and continued to have extramarital affairs while married to Dalí.

In 1969, Dalí bought a castle in Púbol for Gala, but he was only allowed to visit with a written invitation. It was here that Gala continued to entertain her lovers well into her 80s.

In spite of this, Dalí and Gala were together until her death at the ripe old age of 87.

And despite accounts of the couple’s relationship having been less than ideal (aside from Gala’s philandering nature), the romantic in me would like to believe that fate brought the artist and his muse together for a reason.

Something to mull over as you tour this extensive Museum, going through the exhibition in no special order, really. Each visitor going through his or her own journey into the artist’s world.

Just as Dalí had intended.

Opening times of The Dalí Theatre and Museum vary depending on the season. They close on certain days as well. So it would be best to check out their opening schedule. 

dali
The playful facade of the Dalí Museum and Theatre

For Opening Times, check here.
How to Get There, check here.