23 September 1974. Salvador Dalí’s dream came true when his Theatre-Museum was opened in the heart of Figueres, where he could finally display the bulk of his artistic creation all in one place. Today, over four decades later, Dalí’s dream is still alive and the Theatre-Museum provides a dream-like experience for all who visit it. Before going in, walk around the building and observe some examples of the artist’s creative energy. On Plaça Gala-Salvador Dalí, right in front of the main façade and around the corner, Dalí placed representations of some of his obsessions: science (homage to Newton on the steps leading to Carrer de la Jonquera), academic art (three sculptures by Meissonier perched on columns of tyres); innovative art (Obelisk Television by Wolf Vostell with a bust of Gala on top), and Catalan philosophy (monument to Francesc Pujols and Ramon Llull). Continue walking around the museum, observing it from different angles. Admire the gilded mannequins on the roof and windows; the huge eggs crowning the building represent the hatching of the children born to Leda and the god Zeus transformed into a swan.
Once inside the museum, sit down on a bench in the main patio, the site of the former stalls of Figueres Municipal Theatre, and take the time to observe the objects decorating the space, such as the column of tyres with Gala’s boat and a black umbrella on top, purported to be the “largest Surrealist monument in the world”. In front of the column is the Rainy Cadillac, a taxi with a chauffeur, two mannequins in the back seat, and a pile of Burgundy snails. If you put a coin in the slot on the front right-hand wheel, it will start to rain inside the taxi and the umbrella on top of the column of tyres will open and shut. Other works, such as the statue of Queen Esther by Ernst Fuchs and the monsters made of burnt wood hanging on the walls add extra Surrealist touches. The Theatre-Museum contains a large collection of works from Dalí’s career, ranging from his early artistic experiments in Impressionism, Futurism, and Cubism, through his Surrealist creations, to his last works.
Dalí’s tomb is located on the site of the former theatre stage, under the geodesic dome. Towards the end of his days, Dalí found himself unable to overcome the death of his wife, Gala, and locked himself into Púbol Castle in the village of the same name. After nearly losing his life in a fire at the castle, he retreated to Galatea Tower in his Theatre-Museum and lived there for five more years, cared for by a team of nurses. On his deathbed, in 1988, Dalí asked to be buried under the dome in the museum, where his remains still lie.
Leave this poignant space, and move on to see some of his most famous paintings, including Galarina, Portrait of Picasso, Leda Atomica, The Basket of Bread, Soft Self-portrait with Fried Bacon, The Spectre of Sex Appeal, and Galatea of the Spheres. The impressive Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea demonstrates Dalí’s concept of the double image: the painting transforms when seen from a distance of 20 metres, with the head of Abraham Lincoln appearing instead of the naked body of Gala.
Objects created expressly by Dalí for permanent exhibition in the museum range from paintings and sculptures to complex monumental installations such as the Mae West Room (a living room made up of furniture imitating the features of the famous actress) and the Wind Palace Room (with a huge oil painting on its ceiling). Immerse yourself in the fabulous world of Dalí’s dreams. A real pleasure.