Art frames St. Petersburg visit

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You would have to go to Spain to find a larger exhibit of works by Salvador Dali than the collection at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.

Starting this weekend, the museum's 96 oil paintings, numerous original drawings, prints, sculpture, photos and manuscripts by the legendary surrealist will be augmented by works of another master.

"Warhol. Art. Fame. Mortality," running through April 27 at the Dali (, examines how pop-art pioneer Andy Warhol was influenced by Dali's work and his encounters with the painter when both artists lived in New York.

The Warhol exhibit showcases more than 100 paintings, screen prints, photographs and a selection of Warhol films and screen tests featuring Dali and other artists.

Even without the Warhol show, the Dali remains a must-do museum stop in Florida.

Sitting across from the Mahaffey Theater, next to Tampa Bay, the museum's exterior is an extension of Dali's style. The signature feature is the "enigma," a distinctive geodesic glass bubble that emerges out of the building's utilitarian rectangular form on the waterfront side.

Made of 1,062 triangular pieces of glass, the "enigma" rises 75 feet and offers a lovely picture-window view of the bay from the museum's third floor. Visitors reach that vantage point by climbing a helical staircase that reflects Dali's infatuation with the spirals of DNA molecules.

The third floor also houses the museum's main collection, divided into displays that highlight early work, surrealism, mature works and anti-art. Tours are offered every hour on the half-hour and it's not a bad idea to join one, especially if you'd like a hint to find the presidential profile hidden in "Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln."

Catch a trolley outside the museum for galleries, restaurants and shopping along Beach Drive. I stopped at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort, built in Mediterranean Revival style in 1925 and renovated at a cost of more than $93 million in the 1990s.

It's a short walk to the Chihuly Collection ( and its works by famous glass artist Dale Chihuly or a sidewalk table across from the Yacht Basin at 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House (

What better way to cap an art excursion than dinner with a view?


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