The Dalí Theatre Museum (Teatre-Museu Dalí in Catalan) is one of Catalonia´s most famous museums. It was created in collaboration with Dalí himself and displays his most important works, many of which are considered to be the finest works of art in the world. It is located outside the city of Barcelona in the charming town of Figueres, the birthplace of Dalí, and is easily accessible by train or car.
From Sants Estació, one of Barcelona´s main train stations, there are several trains that go to Figueres. The least expensive is the “Regional” train which costs 9 euros each way and takes just over 2 hours. The “MD” or “Media Distancia” takes just under two hours and costs 12.10 euros each way. The trains normally run every half hour from 6am to 9pm. The best option, unless you plan on staying the night, is to leave at 8 or 9 in the morning. This will give you time to explore the town a bit and have a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants before visiting the museum.
Upon arrival (you´ll want to get off at the “Figueres” station) you should head first to the tourist office, which is located in the Plaza del Sol in the center of town and walking distance from the train station. Here you can pick up a map and other useful information about the town. After leaving the tourist office it´s a good idea to start by taking a stroll down La Rambla where you´ll find some of the town´s most interesting architecture, with styles including the Baroque, neoclassical, eclectic, modernist, noucentista and rationalist. Other interesting landmarks in the city include Monturiol street number 20 which is the house where Salvador Dalí was born and the Sant Pere church, which is located right next to the museum.
If you come on a day that a market is being held make sure to stop and have a look. The clothes market, which is one of the biggest in the county of Girona, is held every Thursday from 9am to 2pm on Passeig Nou. The fruit and vegetable markets are held every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 9am to 2pm in Plaza del Gra and Plaza Catalunya and the Flea Market is held the 3rd Saturday of every month on La Rambla.
For lunch you can find many nice restaurants in the center of town, near the museum, with most of them offering local food at reasonable prices. If you are there during the week you should be able to find a “menu del día” which typically offers a first plate, second plate, drink, and dessert, for around 10 euros.
The museum is located in the appropriately named Plaza Gala i Salvador Dalí. The cost of entry is 11 euros and the museum is open until 19h15 from July 1 to September 30 and until 17h15 the rest of the year, so make sure to plan accordingly. The amount of time you will need to visit the museum varies quite a lot depending on the person and their interests, but it´s recommended that you allow approximately 3 hours so as not to feel rushed.
The idea of the museum was proposed to Dali in 1961 by Ramon Guardiola, who was then the mayor of Figueres, and it was Dalí himself who suggested constructing the museum within the old town theatre, which had been destroyed in a fire at the end of the Spanish civil war. Dalí spent over a decade collaborating on the design and making sure it was built based on his criteria, and in 1974 the museum finally opened. The building itself is considered the world´s largest surrealistic object as the architecture is a work of surrealist art. The outside of the museum is spectacular but once you enter the building make sure to also pay attention to the details on the walls, ceilings, floors, etc, as they were also designed by Dalí.
The museum contains many works of Dalí from 1904 to 1989 including sculpture, installation, and holography, which is always a pleasant surprise for those who are familiar only with his paintings. This includes several series of works by Dalí that were created especially for exhibition in the museum. Two of the most notable works created for the museum are the Mae West room and the Rainy Cadillac. The May West room is a 3D exhibition and a tribute to the American actress. It is essentially a portrait formed by a room, with the sofa as the lips, the paintings as the eyes, and the fireplace as the nose. For the best view, make sure to climb to the top of the ladder and look through the giant lens.
The Rainy Cadillac can be found in the museum´s courtyard and is an actual car that belonged to Dalí. It is a black Cadillac with a mannequin driver and two mannequin passengers, and at the top there is a fisherman´s boat with an umbrella on top of the mast. When a coin is inserted into a meter near the wheel it “rains” inside the car and the umbrella opens on top. The Rainy Cadillac is said to represent the fond memories Dalí had of living in the U.S, and the freedom and luxury to move around that he found there.
Dalí also chose to include works by other artists that he respected and so within the museum you will find works by El Greco, Marià Fortuny, and Gerard Dou, among others. And last, but certainly not least, as of his death in 1989 the crypt of Dalí can also be found in the museum.
The Dalí Theatre Museum offers an unforgettable experience into the world of surrealism and is the most popular private museum in Spain, receiving over 6,000 visitors per day. For more information check out the official website at http://www.salvador-dali.org/en_index.html