Over 370,000 people visited Salvador Dalí at the Philadelphia Museum of Art during its 14-week run (February 16-May 30, 2005), making the retrospective the second most highly attended special exhibition ever to be held at the Museum. Its attendance was second only to Cézanne, which drew some 548,000 visitors during the summer of 1996 over nearly 14 weeks. Salvador Dalí was a popular and critical success, inspiring an extraordinary number of compelling reviews in publications throughout the United States and the world, including Art in America, Art News, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Newsweek, the New York Times, The New Yorker, Philadelphia Inquirer, Smithsonian, Time, and Vogue.
Because of the large number of works on view in this comprehensive show, many of which were very small and reward close looking, Salvador Dalí had a more limited total capacity than the earlier special exhibition milestone. Described by the New York Times as “a visual and psychic marathon,” Salvador Dalí held visitors’ attention for an average of nearly two hours in the galleries, which is significantly longer than a visitor typically spends in a special exhibition at the Museum. Visitorship to Salvador Dalí was at maximum capacity and when tickets sold out, the Museum extended the exhibition for two weeks, keeping open from 8 a.m. until midnight. Tickets then sold out again in the last week.
Anne d’Harnoncourt, Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, stated: “We are thrilled that this ambitious exhibition has drawn such positive, far-reaching interest and response from an international public. Not only did it succeed brilliantly in reexamining Dalí’s place in 20th century art, it drew a large number of first-time visitors to the Museum, many of them young people. We are immensely grateful to the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, in Figueres, Spain, which commissioned the retrospective, and offer our heartfelt thanks for the invaluable support of Advanta, our corporate sponsor, without whom we would not have been able to bring the exhibition to Philadelphia and which was instrumental in helping to make it a city wide experience.”
The exhibition has had an enormous impact on the Philadelphia Museum of Art, increasing visitor awareness of the Museum’s collections and programs across a broad spectrum. The exhibition drew its attendance from all 50 states as well as Asia, Europe and Latin America. Among the visitors were the president of the Republic of Ireland, Mary McAleese, Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, actor Jim Carrey, artist Chuck Close, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Dhani Jones, and Philadelphia 76ers forward Kyle Korver.
Gail Harrity, Chief Operating Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, said: “We have so many people to thank for spreading the word about the Dalí exhibition. Advanta’s extraordinary support enabled the Museum to launch a comprehensive communications effort and generate a national and international marketing campaign in partnership with the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. We do expect that the exhibition’s impact will show a strong benefit for the city of Philadelphia, which is always a crucial partner of the Museum.”
Dennis Alter, Chairman of Advanta Corporation, said: “We felt right from the start that the opportunity to bring Salvador Dalí to Philadelphia was too good to miss, not only because it was a once in a lifetime artistic experience but because it was a great exhibition from which the city and the entire region would benefit. In supporting this exhibition, Advanta is supporting our community and our brand.”
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, together with Advanta, the GPTMC and the PCVB have commissioned the Philadelphia-based Urban Partners to measure the exhibition’s positive effect on the economy of Philadelphia. The final report will be completed in mid-July.
Among the immediate indicators of the exhibition’s impact are:
- The Museum’s membership increased to an all time high of more than 58,000 households.
- More than 20,000 high school and college students attended, many of them in tours from area schools.
- The Museum’s website at www.philamuseum.org had over 2,240,000 visits since tickets went on sale to the public on December 1, 2004. The website of Advanta, corporate sponsor for the exhibition, was linked to the Museum’s site, along with that of the GPTMC.
Salvador Dalí included more than 200 works of art on loan from public and private collections in 14 foreign countries. The Philadelphia Museum of Art was the only North American venue for the retrospective, which was seen first at the Palazzo Grassi, in Venice, Italy. It was the first retrospective of the artist’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures to be seen in the United States in more than 60 years.
In Philadelphia, Salvador Dalí was made possible by ADVANTA. Its two-week extension (from May 15 until May 30) was made possible by Advanta and the Community and Economic Development Fund of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Additional funding was provided by an endowment from The Annenberg Foundation for major exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, by The Pew Charitable Trusts, and by a generous contribution from Gisela and Dennis Alter. Promotional support was provided by NBC 10 WCAU, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Amtrak, and the Productivity Bank of the City of Philadelphia. The print media sponsor was The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly.com.
The exhibition was commissioned by the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, Figueres, Spain, and organized by Palazzo Grassi, Venice, with the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, Figueres, Spain, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and with the support of the Salvador Dalí Museum of Saint Petersburg, Florida, in celebration of the centennial of Dalí's birth. Dawn Ades, distinguished English scholar of surrealism and a specialist in Dalí was the guest curator, working with Sra. Montserrat Aguer Teixidor, the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation’s Director of the Center for Dalinian Studies, and Michael Taylor, the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.