Stalemate over use of city-owned land puts Dalí Museum expansion on hold

A big effort to expand the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg and build new technology has stopped in its tracks. The museum, the city, and nearby Mahaffey Theater couldn’t come to an agreement before a crucial deadline. 

When Florida’s most-visited art museum announced its plans to build a massive addition, the museum started raising millions privately and secured some funds from the county level to build an immersive technology and education center that could house exhibits like the "Van Gogh Alive" display. 

"We have taken our lead in Salvador Dali himself and we work in technologies that we think will reveal art and the artists in more direct ways," explained Dalí’s executive director, Hank Hine.

But to expand on city-owned waterfront property, they couldn’t work out an agreement in time to get the issue on a ballot for a referendum vote. 

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"Our plans to build over this space were found to be inconvenient by the Grand Prix who has rights to that space four days a year," Hine said. 

The Grand Prix wasn’t the only problem. The city, museum, and Bill Edwards, who runs the Mahaffey Theatre, couldn’t come to an agreement and the city council says it’s now too late to get the issue on a ballot. 

"I did not want us to move forward," Edwards said. "Until all parties agree, I don’t want to move forward" 

The museum didn’t want to give an on-camera interview but released a statement saying: "The city advised us that an expansion over the driveway ("lot 6") to the west of the museum could be achieved through voter referendum. However, we were not be able to complete negotiations within the time frame needed for a November referendum. As a result, the Dalí respectfully requested that city council not consider the referendum ordinance at this time."