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Dali: $38 million expansion will increase attendance by 50 percent

Bill DeYoung

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The proposed expansion (southeast facade). All artist renderings provided by the Dali Museum.

The Salvador Dali Museum’s proposed $38.6 million expansion, officials told the Pinellas County Commission last week, will mean a 50 percent increase in visitors. According to a recent economic impact study, the Dali – which reports attendance of between 360,000 and 450,000 paid visitors annually – is already the biggest tourist draw in the city.

Commissioners agreed to forward the museum’s request for a capitol project fund to the county’s Tourist Development Council. The Dali is asking $17.5 million in bed tax money to go towards a new parking garage and expanded space for state-of-the-art digital exhibitions.

The remainder of the $38.6 million would be obtained through donations.

“We’re looking to create a kind of Dali IMAX in this new space, that will introduce them not only to Dali’s art, but to art in general,” museum executive director Hank Hine told the St. Pete Catalyst in an exclusive interview at the time. “And the environment of making art, the history of surrealism, a little bit about Spain … in other words, kind of immerse them in the world, in person, of Dali. Which will make it all more meaningful as well as more easily accessible.”

Artist renderings of the proposed project show a waterfront dominated by a multi-facility Dali “campus,” with a 20,000-square-foot wing – linked via walkway to the 65,000-square-foot museum – containing the requested space for “Digital Dali” and its immersive, 360-degree theater, as well as a second level for community and education spaces.

The Dali Museum has a 99-year lease with the City of St. Petersburg, which owns the waterfront property (the City also owns the adjacent Mahaffey Theater and Albert Whitted Airport). The City is paid $1 per year for use of the site.

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