Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres
Of all of our adventures in Spain, I would have to say that our trip to the Salvador Dalí Theatre-Museum was one of the most unique. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so much walking through a art museum and I have certainly been to a fair share of art museums from all over, though never to one dedicated to a single artist. Dalí put a lot of work into the museum that houses many of his inspiring works and you can see it in every corner of every room; statues on the ceilings, decorated doorways and not a single blank wall. I have no regrets visiting the museum besides not having arrived earlier, there is a lot to see and I could have easily spent the entire day looking around.
The museum is extremely thoughtful even in its conception as Salvador Dalí chose the location himself. Located in his hometown of Figures, it was built where the former Municipal Theatre used to stand before it was burned down during the Spanish Civil War. Dalí chose this spot for 3 reasons: it is steps away from the church in which he was baptised, the Municipal Theatre is where he had his first formal exhibition and lastly, he found the spot suitable given the theatrical nature of his art which is why it’s called the Theatre-Museum. It was opened in 1974 and Dalí introduced changes and additions until his death.
Part of the stunning courtyard that guests see when first arriving in the museum.
The theatre-museum has a wide selection of works from the Spanish artist which document his artistic progress from impressionism to futurism to cubism to his iconic contributions to surrealism. In the brochure there is a warning not to follow a preconceived route through the museum because that is not how Dalí would have wanted his art to be seen. If you wish to get through the entire museum, you can follow the chronological order of the numbered rooms but you should know “the laid out route does not have, nor does it wish to have, any systematic function nor chronological sense”.
I was able to learn a lot about the museum and the art from the guidebook that we picked up at the gift shop. The book was only 13.50 euros and it provides a whole slew of information about every room and the thought process in putting the museum together. It really helped to make sense of Dalí’s sometimes nonsensical way of thinking.
If you have limited time in the museum like we did, be sure to visit the following rooms:
The Courtyard and the Cupola:
Highly unlikely that you can miss these rooms given that they are some of the largest in the museum and are located at the entrance, but make sure not to walk straight through them as there are many interesting pieces in each one. Here you can see some of the charred beams sticking out of the wall that are from the original Municipal Theatre. I would recommend buying the official guidebook to read about each piece because they all have very interesting stories from the golden figures surrounding the Courtyard to the giant painting in the Cupola.
Don’t miss the chance to give a donation to see a special performance by the Rainy Taxi sculpture in the middle of the courtyard. The umbrella on the top of the towering piece will open and close and it will start to rain inside of the car!
When in the Cupola, look down to see where the artist is buried in the middle of his museum. His tomb is marked with a tomb stone but is easy to walk past.
One of my favourite pieces in the museum, Leda Atomica, which can be found in the Treasure Room. Many of Dalí’s works are dedicated to his wife and his muse Gala, keep an eye out for her around the museum.
The Mae West Room:
In this room there is an installation of large, seemingly random objects taking up the majority of the exhibition space. You see what seems to be a very large wig attached to an oval at the top of some stairs. You will see two eyes in frames on a wall and what appears to be a table set up against the wall. As you cross to the other side of the room, you will see other pieces of art work but what you need to do is go up the set of stairs to see through the magnifying glass for a special surprise!
From above looking through the looking glass you will the the composition in its entirety: It is a portrait of Mae West. In all her glory, bombastic, larger-that-life self. When you descend the stairs you will see a small picture that shows you what Dali wanted the instalment to represent. Don’t forget to take a 360 degree look at the room as there are some pieces that are not hung on the walls. (This rule can be applied to the whole museum.)
Looking through the magnifying glass in the Mae West room.
The Dalí d’or Room:
This darkly lit room shows off some of the artist’s gold works, each encased in its own glass viewing case. There are small sculptures to mirrors to jewellery all displayed. This is also where you can see the Salvador Dalí’s tomb where he was buried after his death in 1989.
The Palace of the Wind:
This room doesn’t seem to have a theme but none the less, is a very fun room to see as it has a fantastic mural of Dalí and his wife painted on the ceiling as well as an interesting green laser piece in a connected room. You’ll also be able to find some of the artists more personal possessions as well as a tapestry of one of his more famous works, The Persistence of Memory.
Galatea of the Spheres
Especially if you are in a hurry, leave this for last but don’t forget it. The outside of the Theatre-Museum is adorned with sculptures and monuments on every corner. You can see white busts with baguettes on their heads and golden figures with their arms out to welcome you. There is even a scuba diving suit somewhere in the mix, which references Dalí’s attempts to “dive into the subconscious.” Make sure to go around the entire building and see the red painted section where there are large eggs decorating the roof.
Monument to Pujols
I found that it was especially fun going through the museum trying to find patterns in the works, for example, you will find crutches in a lot of paintings and sculptures as well as eggs, drawers and depictions of the hydrogen atom. I had a good time trying to find connections in each room and I feel like that is what Dalí would have wanted; for each person to have fun in his museum and perceive his art in their own unique way.
Some drawers spotted on a statue. Venus de Milo with Drawers
If you are planning to visit, the museum is open every day from 9am-8pm (July- September) or 10:30am-6pm (October-June) and last admission is 45 minutes before closing. It is closed every Monday from October to May. Tickets are 12 euros each. There are reduced admission rates for students, seniors, groups and children under 9 have free admission.
Lauren Ibbott is a second year University of Ottawa student, blogger and freelance writer. She frequently writes for DownshiftingPRO. Please follow her on Instagram @Lauren_Patii All opinions are her own. You can read more of her post below:
Pictures are from both of us and cannot be used, copied or cropped for use without our written consent. No compensation was received for this post.