St. Petersburg, Florida may seem like an unlikely place to find a thriving arts scene. Miami might come to mind instead, or even Tampa, St. Petersburg’s neighbor across the bay. The arts are a diverse mixture of both traditional media, like what you might find hanging in one of the area museums, and modern art that uses spray paint as the brushes and walls as the canvas. So if you’re staying in Tampa, Clearwater or St. Petersburg’s beaches, be sure to spend some time downtown, learning more about what makes the city so ideal for arts and culture.
The Dali Museum
The Dali Museum is the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s work outside of Europe. A. Reynolds and Eleanor R. Morse first admired the artist’s work at a retrospective at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1942. It was then that they began collecting for themselves and later formed a friendship with Dali and his wife. After displaying the over 200 pieces in their home and later in a small museum in Ohio, the collection found a permanent home in St. Petersburg in 1982. A brand new facility opened in 2008, which now houses 96 oil paintings and over 1,000 drawings, watercolors, sculptures and other pieces. The museum also holds regular exhibits on artists relevant to Dali and surrealism, like the most recent Escher exhibit and another on Walt Disney.
The works of Dale Chihuly, the well-known glassworks artist, are presented at a small gallery at the Chihuly Collection. A part of the Morean Arts Center, the museum will have a larger space in fall 2016. Signature works on display here include Chandeliers, Mille Fiore, Persian Ceiling and Float Boat. And unlike some other museums, photos are allowed inside. While the largest collection of Chihuly sculptures is at his studio in Seattle, this St. Petersburg gallery is impressive as well.
Museum of Fine Arts
Museum of Fine Arts holds more traditional works from antiquity to the present. The museum was founded in 1965 by Margaret Acheson Stuart. Since then, it’s expanded to over twice its original size. Notable works include paintings by Renoir, Monet and Cezanne as well as Steuben glass. The permanent collection also includes a large selection of photographs and religious artifacts from Meso America and Asia. Regularly changing exhibits round out the museum.
Street Art and Murals
Street art lovers will fall quickly for St. Petersburg, which has commissioned artists to beautify downtown buildings. A 2015 festival brought together many of these artists and now you can see over 30 around Central Avenue. Each piece is unique to the artist, bringing a punch of color to the neighborhood. If you want to visit them for yourself, start at 6th Street and Central Avenue and wind your way down, popping over to 1st Avenue occasionally as many of the works are in alleys or the backs of buildings facing parking lots. Alternatively, book a tour with St. Pete Mural Tour, which takes you to the best murals in town and provides background information about the artists.