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New $36M Dali Museum opens in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — For a few hours Tuesday, this Florida city was transformed into a Surrealist canvas in honor of Salvador Dali, the genre’s master.

A man wearing a large snail hat led a parade of drummers, who were followed by a phalanx of pirates, past shimmering water and vibrant palm trees. Wild green parakeets fluttered in the air. Spanish royalty was on hand, as were several mayors, dozens of reporters and hundreds of art lovers.

A number of people had attached pencil-thin Dali mustaches to their upper lips.

Everyone gathered beneath a glass-and-concrete building — the new, $36-million museum that features a priceless collection of Dali’s works.

It replaces the old Dali Museum, more than doubling the exhibition space and improving hurricane protection. It is considered the world’s most comprehensive collection of Dali’s work.

Princess Cristina of Spain, who is the duchess of Palma de Mallorca and the youngest daughter of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, called the museum a “superb setting, a state of the art building” that evokes the waves, magic and light of Dali’s native Mediterranean sea.

The museum’s signature architectural detail is a wave of glass paneling that undulates around the building — a striking feature that was designed by architect Yann Weymouth, who had a hand in creating the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris.

“The city of St. Petersburg gains a landmark and outstanding beacon of cultural beauty,” the princess said.