Virtual reality exhibit 'Disney and Dali' comes to St. Pete

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The Dali Museum's next exhibition has been years in the making. 

"We've been thinking about this since before I came to the museum in the '90's but we never knew how to do it," Executive Director Hank Hine said Thursday, referring to "Disney and Dali: Architects of the Imagination." 

The vision came together a couple of years ago with a show that opened in San Francisco, and was then shut down. It's since been rebuilt, and reopens this weekend in St. Petersburg. 

"You really can't think of Dali without also thinking of Disney because they were just so equally influential," Hine said. "They each kind of built our imaginative environments, their images govern our emotions."

Dali was at the forefront of the surrealism movement at the same time Disney was creating new ways to create animated motion pictures. The two may have met for the first time in the mid-1930s. 

"They were put together in the Museum of Modern Art in an exhibition called 'Fantastic Art' and Disney's cells for an animation and Dali's paintings which we own here in the museum are shown in that exhibit," Hine said. 

The show includes original paintings, sketches, letters, animations and other artifacts. Dali and Disney remained personal friends for decades. Both were aggressive self-promoters, incorporated mathematics and sciences in some of their work, and explored new means of artistic expression.

The exhibit also includes a virtual reality experience: A viewer donning special goggles can move into and around a Dali painting by moving his/her head or focusing on certain spots on the screen. 

"These were artists that reached for the future," Hine explained. "So we thought it was appropriate that we reach as well into the future."

The exhibit opens January 23 and will run though June. Click here for more information.