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Detail of the façade of the Dalí Theatre-Museum, Figueres.

The Dalí Theatre-Museum in Spain: Salvador Dalí’s last great work

Catalonia

Spain is the birthplace of some of the greatest talents in the history of art. Creators with the most varied personalities and styles, who find common ground in their devotion to the country in which they were raised. It is for this reason that many of these artists have allowed their legacies to remain in Spain, to be shared with the rest of the world. Such is the case with Dalí and his Theatre-Museum, which he himself designed in homage to his own career in art.

Where did the idea come from?

In the 1960s, the mayor of Dalí’s home town of Figueres asked the artist to donate one of his works to the town’s Ampurdán Museum. Dalí decided that the town deserved a lot more than just one of his works and that, instead, it would be the place in which his art lived on. And so the project to build his own museum was born.The next step was to choose a site on which to build it. The artist was fond of the Figueres Municipal Theatre, not just because of his predilection for theatrical works, but also because he held a very treasured memory there: its lobby hosted his very first exhibition. However, the building was practically destroyed by air raids during the Spanish Civil War. So Dalí chose to rebuild the theatre to house his museum.

Hall in the old Municipal Theatre in Figueres, Girona, Catalonia

Ten years later, Dalí devoted himself body and soul to the museum’s conception, accompanying his team through every stage of its construction and taking care of every last detail so that the building would faithfully reflect his eccentric personality. Everything was ready by the day of its inauguration, and on 28 September 1974, the doors of the Surrealist museum were opened and the public invited in to immerse themselves in Dalí’s universe.Its huge, transparent dome – designed by the architect Emilio Pérez – has become the museum’s most iconic feature. Your attention might also be drawn to the black Cadillac parked in the central courtyard, or the curious red façade crowned with a line of egg-shaped sculptures. But wait: what’s inside the building is even wackier. 

Detail of the cupola of the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Girona, Catalonia

The interior decoration has been carefully designed right down to the smallest detail, allowing visitors to feel as though they were actually inside one of Dalí’s paintings – as the furniture comes together to simulate one of the artist’s works. Take the Mae West Room, for example, designed by Dalí and Oscar Tusquets, in which each item of furniture is not merely decorative, but has been chosen and placed for a specific purpose: so that, when viewing the room as a whole, a three-dimensional portrait of the actress is created. Hence the famous lip-shaped sofa. This space creates an incomparable impression that has to be experienced in person.Likewise, Dalí created other monuments designed to be placed in the museum. These include, for example, the Wind Palace Room and the monument to Francesc Pujols.

Detail of the Mae West Room at the Dalí Theatre-Museum, Figueres.

The works by Dalí exhibited here trace the evolution of his art over time,allowing the public to view even his earliest artistic practices. By visiting the museum, you can admire works such as “Port Alguer” (1924), “The Cosmic Athletes” (1943), and “Leda Atomica” (1949). However, the museum is not just home to works by Dalí, as the artist also wanted to exhibit works by artists such as Evarist Vallès and Antoni Pitxot. It was Dalí’s wish to be buried here after his death. His crypt now forms part of the museum.A museum that rose from the ruins of a former theatre, in which every detail of its structure shares some connection with its creator’s life, making it more than simply the rooms in which his works live on.

View of the courtyard of the Dalí Theatre-Museum, Figueres.
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