The year of their marriage the Morses began their long friendship with Dalí and on 21 March 1943 acquired their first Dalí work as their own wedding present. Over time, becoming patrons of Dalí, the Morses acquired works by Dalí which they found both captivating and intriguing, even when Dali himself advised them to get others. They amassed nearly 100 paintings and more than 1,000 drawings, watercolors, prints and objects, as well as film and designs for clothing, furniture and ballet sets. Their holdings include not only numerous paintings from the late 1920’s and early 30’s, widely considered Dali’s best period, but also examples of his precocious early work and epic late paintings.
Their absorption by the artist’s work led Reynolds to author numerous studies of Dalí and his œuvre and Eleanor to translate from French to English numerous books about Dalí and his œuvre. In 1969, the Morses purchased The Hallucinogenic Toreador, before it was completed.
From 1971 to 1980, the Morses’ considerable Dalí collection was on show in Beachwood, Ohio at the Salvador Dalí Museum, which was established there in a wing of their business premises. As with time the collection grew and required larger accommodation. The Morses began the search for a new, permanent home for their collection. After seeing an article in the Wall Street Journal, “U.S. Art World Dillydallies over Dalí”, St Petersburg attorney James W. Martin persuaded local leaders to approach the Morses to choose St Petersburg. With the financial support of the City of St Petersburg and the State of Florida, the collection was housed in the Salvador Dalí Museum, formerly a warehouse on the waterfront, which opened in March 1982. A new, larger and more storm-secure museum near the current one, opened in 1-11-11 ( at 11:11 am ).
The Salvador Dali Museum, built to house this magnificent collection, is at least as important to the Dali legacy as the renowned Theatre-Museum in his home town of Figueres, Catalonia, where the artist is buried. The Morses’ diligent collecting and their friendship with Gala and Salvador Dalí produced a valuable art collection that is now said to be the world’s most comprehensive collection of Dalí’s works. The museum has one of each of our Dalí sculptures in their permanent collections.
The new building with its innovative style pays tribute to Dali’s surrealistic imagination.
Outside view of the building
Interior views of the building