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Unusually Beautiful, Beautifully Unusual

In the last five years, the Tampa Bay area has enjoyed the opening of a couple of amazing art museums. One features the often perplexing paintings of renowned Spanish surrealist, Salvador Dali. The other is dedicated to the whimsical colors and forms of contemporary American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly.

Both museums sit on the scenic waterfront of downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, within walking distance of each other. The vicinity also boasts a number of excellent restaurants, shops, and other galleries – including the Museum of Fine Arts, which has a lovely collection of more classic works from all around the world. For visitors looking for something beyond beaches or amusement parks, this could be the perfect excursion!

The Dali Museum

Every fan of Spanish surrealism will love the Dali Museum, which opened in January 2011 and was specifically built to honor the mind-bending artistry of Salvador Dali. With its sweeping spiral staircase, garden labyrinth, and irregular glass “Enigma” enclosure, the facility itself is a tip of the hat to Dali’s often strange pieces.

The collection features thousands of Dali’s works, including fine examples from every stage of his career. Nearly 100 of Dali’s most famous oil paintings are housed here, including “Daddy Longlegs of the Evening – Hope!” and “The Hallucinogenic Toreador.” Visitors will also see hundreds of pieces in other media such as watercolor, clay sculpture, and photography.

The Chihuly Collection

Having opened its doors in summer 2010, the Chihuly Collection has the distinction of being the first space specifically designed to house a permanent collection of Dale Chihuly’s marvelous glass sculptures. The lighting and architecture of the building serve exclusively to accent the vibrant colors and twisty forms of the artist’s unforgettable works. The Collection includes immense pieces like “Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier” created especially for this exhibit, as well as several of Chihuly’s famous series such as “Ikebana” and “Persians.”

The gallery is run by the Morean Arts Center. It houses a glass-blowing facility where visitors to the Chihuly Collection can go see these artists in action, and even make their own glass-blown souvenir!

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