I don’t know about you, but from the first time I saw Salvador Dali paintings when I was in high school, I thought “Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to walk around in one of those dream worlds?
A couple weeks ago that forgotten dream came true. And it was really cool.
Technology is doing things now that would have been considered pure magic in the pre-internet days. It’s hard to forget that we’re only about two and a half decades past that point.) It felt like magic at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida when I went from looking at paintings to going inside a painting.
This is the original two-dimensional work you can see framed on a wall there. It’s a 1935 painting called Archeological Reminiscence of Millet’s “Angelus.” It’s an evocative and dramatic image on its own, but like many of Dali’s best-known paintings, it’s not physically very large.
When you step into another room for the Dreams of Dali experience though, you strap on Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and get a 360-degree view of what that world would look like. This won’t be in 3D for you, but it gives you a taste:
There are a lot of neat little touches though, like shifting sand and ants crawling around when you look down at the ground. If you go inside and look up, tilting your head, you see that view at the top and you can linger on it as you pan back and forth. You can see wherever your field of vision would be where you’re standing, so you can turn all the way around and look at what would be behind you. You can go up high on the structures and look down toward the distant ground. It’s very peaceful in there, like an interesting dream where things are surreal, but not dangerous. Perhaps there will be a sequel and those strange elephant-like creatures will attack…
Even without this virtual reality experience, the popular Dali Museum is worth a visit. Housed in a hurricane-proof building with a geodesic dome, It’s filled with some of his best work and it’s the largest museum dedicated to the artist outside of Europe. (Here’s Jennifer’s take on the one in his home town of Figures that the artist himself helped design.) If you’re on vacation on the Gulf Coast of Florida, set aside some time for a little culture. Try to come early as the place does get crowded, even on weekdays.