I was extremely lucky to have visited Barcelona, Spain this year with my family. It was my first time there, and it’s incredibly enjoyable — the men were hot, the women were hot, the food was scrumptious, and the whole city was like one big Intramuros. But before going there, I truly had only one thing in my agenda in Spain: forget FCBarcelona, forget Gaudi, forget Miro and Picasso, forget the paella; I was there to visit the Dali Theatre-Museum.
So my brother and I rode the 2-hour train from Barcelona to Figueres to visit the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s creations in the world. And I tell you, the trip was soooooo worth it. You can tell right from the building’s facade that this wasn’t like any other museum.
While other museums have sculptures of the Greek and Roman persuasion littered around the museum grounds, Dali’s museum has scuba divers and women with bread and crutches.
You already know you’ll be in for a — for lack of a better word — surreal experience upon going inside. And just like Dali himself, the inside gets crazier. It opens to a beautiful courtyard with a tall sculpture of a boat (probably inspired by his love of the seaside) and a busty tribal-looking woman atop an old Cadillac that intermittently rains inside.
Dali salvaged this theatre after a fire razed through it sometime during the 30s and left only the main structure in its wake. The geodesic glass dome, added during the restoration, covers the atrium. A 4-storey-tall mural (I didn’t get the title) envelops the wall inside, much like a stage backdrop.
Dali wasn’t satisfied in merely having his creations on the walls or floor. Nope, you’ll have to crane your neck in all directions — including the ceilings — to take it all in.
You can tell that Dali clearly wanted his museum to be a voyage through his imagination. Like his skull, the building only serves to put physical walls around his creations; but his ideas go deeper and go beyond any boundaries. He loved this building so much, he firmly instructed to be buried here.
What a pleasant surprise! As a Dali geek, seeing his tomb brought mixed feelings of mild embarrassment (I should’ve known he was buried here) and serene elation that, in my lifetime, I got to pay my respects to this great Surrealist.
Many of my absolute favorites are displayed here. Some highlights include:
You can tell how eternally devoted and cuckoo in love Dali was, using Gala as her muse all his life (one can call to mind Dali stealing a once-married Gala away from fellow Surrealist and poet Paul Eluard).
Dali Seen from the Back Painting Gala from the Back Eternalized by Six Virtual Corneas Provisionally Reflected by Six Real Mirrors, 1972-1973
Another pièce de résistance in the atrium is Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea, which at 30 meters becomes the portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko), c. 1974.
Weird and wacky sculptures can be found all throughout the building. I personally can’t imagine living with creations like these (especially during late-night fridge raids), but hey, I’m no Salvador Dali.
A must-not-miss area on the second floor is the Mae West room.
To say Dali loved illusions would be an understatement. Also in the museum are his stereoscopic paintings that, when seen with two mirrors, has a 3-D look to it.
He also made a series of paintings that only take shape when seen around a reflective bottle (like this one below that reflects a skull). I saw this when I was a kid at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Exhibit, and who would’ve thought Dali made those!
There were more surprises housed in this magnificent building — too many for me to post, methinks. When you find yourself in Spain, don’t hesitate to take that long train ride to visit the Teatre-Museu Dali in Figueres. You won’t regret it, I promise. My brother,whose only knowledge of Dali was through the latter’s melting clocks masterpieces, thoroughly enjoyed the excursion too. As for me, it was my surreal dream come true.