The Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, has a $38 million expansion proposal in the works to add 20,000 square feet dedicated to digitally oriented presentations and educational programs that make use of augmented- and virtual-reality technologies. The Pinellas County Tourist Development Council will soon establish a timeline for a review process to evaluate the museum’s application for $17.5 million in tax money to support the endeavor, which would also include the construction of a parking garage.
Hank Hine, director of the Dalí Museum—which holds more than 2,000 objects spanning the Surrealist’s career and draws some 400,000 visitors annually—told ARTnews that, since Dalí incorporated film, animation, and holography in his practice, the institution’s interest in growing its technological capacities is “totally in his spirit.”
The Dalí Museum’s current “Magritte & Dalí” exhibition has a component in which viewers can situate themselves in the works on view by way of augmented reality. Another virtual experience at the museum has allowed viewers to immerse themselves within Dalí’s paintings and to navigate the scenes from 360 degrees.
Additionally, the museum is in the process of further developing an artificially intelligent digital rendering of Dalí—created with video footage, photographs, and other archival materials featuring the artist’s face—that speaks to visitors.
“Our motivation is the change in our culture and the way that digital technologies are integral to peoples’ experience of almost anything,” Hine said of the museum’s plans. “There has to be an adjustment to the way people experience art.”
Hine said that “some of these experiences of Dalí can be exported” for international exhibitions, and noted that such technology can play a role in the museum’s efforts to serve as stewards of Dalí’s art, balancing the desire to share his work with the need to preserve it.
“There are a dozen proposed shows coming to us in a year, and we try to support what we can,” he said. “We would like to be able to satisfy the global appetite for Dalí with fewer paintings [on loan] and even increase the presence of Dalí in emerging markets in South Asia and South America.”