The Dalì Museum is an unique experience. So often this term is thrown here and there as to render it meaningless (if hundreds of experiences are “unique“, they aren’t really that unique…). With the Dalì Museum it is absolutely appropriate.
First of all, the correct name of the museum is Dalì Theatre and Museum. This alone should tell you that is not just a museum but it included a theatre. Actually the theatre is the very first room you enter.
That is the audience part, now transformed in a courtyard with a real-sized car with plenty of half naked statues around. Quirky eh? And that’s not the quirkiest bit. Not even close.
When to visit the Dalì Museum
Let’s reel back to the beginning. I am a fan of the Dalì as a painter, mostly. Surrealism has always had the capability to make me think about what I’m watching without being too difficult to comprehend as cubism. Of course I’m speaking from an averagely informed point of view, art critiques will surely have a different opinion.
Therefore, as a longer weekend off work, I decided to pay a visit to his Museum, which he built, cared for and constitutes his final resting place in Figueres. I booked a visit online on the official website and I suggest you to do so too. First, you’ll be certain to enter when you have chosen to, which for a hugely popular museum like this it may not be guaranteed, and second, you can choose the time you want to visit. This is vital. As we’ll see, this is a kind of museum that makes you think more than the usual and for thinking you need to have the calm and space to admire the art around you. Thus it is best done when as few other visitors are around you.
If you can then, go as soon as the museum opens in the morning. 9am. That will anticipate any guided tour, which bring hordes of tourists in. That’s what I did and I’m so glad I did as for the first 20 minutes there were 6-7 other visitors beside me inside. It was extremely easy to walk around in all calm, enjoying each piece of art as it deserved.
The Dalì Museum is indeed an unique experience. Some of its content will impress you, some will puzzle you, some will shock you. All of it will make you think. It is no coincidence that Dalì himself preferred the visitor to not take a guide with them but to think themselves about the meaning of what was being seen. And that is my advice too: go on your own, take your time and formulate your own interpretation of the operas. When back home, confront it with the “official” one of the art critiques and see from the other side, the learned one. Perhaps you’ll notice a different aspect of a piece or perhaps it will give you a stronger impression, devoid of pre-conceived expectations.
In itself, the museum is easy to navigate. Follow the arrows with the number you’ll see as soon as you step in and you won’t miss anything. The path is well thought, not so common for many museums. You won’t get lost, despite the conformation of the museum being strange (which by now shouldn’t surprise you).
How much time to visit the Dalì Museum
2 hours minimum. As I said, take your time on thinking about all the operas you’re seeing, don’t rush anything. There’s hardly any description so you won’t spend any time reading but it’ll be all thinking and taking pictures (which are thank God allowed but for flashes). Rest also in the amazing little rooftop garden right in the middle of the museum
Allow also 15-20 minutes to visit the jewelry collection. I wasn’t aware Dalì also designed jewelries, I admit, and I would have missed it if wasn’t for one of the custodians that showed me the way. It is a small collection of amazing, and of course very peculiar, jewels in the same building but with a different entrance.
I particularly liked this wonderful heart, with the inner parts moving (video below).
Overall, 2 hours for the proper museum and the jewelry exhibition will be enough.
A truly surrealist experience. As Dalì himself said:
I want my museum to be a single block, a labyrinth, a great surrealist object. It will be [a] totally theatrical museum. The people who come to see it will leave with the sensation of having had a theatrical dream.
That is exactly the feeling I got after coming out of the museum. A long dream and a wandering inside the mind of a true artist. No other museum in the world came even close to this kind of feeling. Dalì Museum did thanks to the desire of its creator and we should be grateful that such an artist spent so long of his life (from 1974, when it was first opened, till his death in 1989) to donate us back this stone and art legacy of him.
If you are ever nearby Barcelona do take the high speed train to Figueres to visit the Dali Museum. It’ll be a well spent day out, I promise.