Van Gogh. Monet. Sitting in a crowded room with world-famous works of art projected on white walls. Zooming in to irises and starry nights and brush-stroked waterlilies. That's what we're used to in Miami.
Now it's time to forget everything you know about immersive experiences. When it comes to Salvador Dalí, things are done differently. They're surreal.
Cue "Surreal 360: a Salvador Dalí Experience." Sure, it's at Ice Palace Studios — like many other immersive experiences in years past. But that's where the similarities end.
"Here we have more than 200 original artworks, which wasn't the situation [for the other immersive experiences]," says Santiago Buitriago, a consultant for Ice Palace Studios and spokesperson for "Surreal 360," who also worked on the van Gogh and Monet immersive experiences. "The other exhibits were just the immersive room. That was it. But we have paintings and sculptures, and at the end of it, we have this immersive room, and we also have a virtual reality room."
In true Dalí fashion, things get a little interesting and stray from your standard museum exhibition. Before entering the exhibit, you're advised to download the Surreal 360 app (available both on Apple's App Store and Google Play). As you enter, you're guided by the docents to open the app and scan works of art — 40 of them in all — tagged with a large eye icon. The art comes to life on your phone's screen when you do. Paint drips from canvases, snakes fight, and stars shine — Dalí for the digital age.
The works throughout span many of Dalí's well-known — as well as lesser-known — series, from "Don Quixote" and "Conquest of the Cosmos" to "Objects of the Future," the Ten Commandment sculptures, silver medals, plates, and more. And there is even a reproduction of the infamous Mae West couch Dalí designed — complete with eyes gazing upon the sitter from TVs — serving as a selfie spot before you enter the first room. You'll see artwork dedicated to his muse and wife, Gala, surreal nudes, and even the illustrious melting clocks — and many of these pieces you've likely never seen before, as they are all on loan from the private Shanahan Collection.
The Shanahan Collection started to take form in the year 2000 through the initiative of Santiago Shanahan, an enthusiast of the artist, to create a traveling exhibit to publicize Dalí's work, immortalizing the Catalonian genius in all his facets as a writer, set designer, producer, director, designer, inventor, decorator, muralist, architect, craftsman, sculptor, musician, scholar and teacher.
But the real draw is perhaps the multisensory experience. At the end of the exhibit, you're guided to a room painted white from floor to ceiling, along with two benches and four sculptures. And that's when the magic happens. During the 15-minute show, paint strokes are projected on the floors and walls as ethereal music drips out of the speakers. A desert appears with Dalí's infamous melting clock as the centerpiece. You're taken underwater with Dalíesque creatures. You're taken to another planet, where purple mountains and a desolate landscape are surrounded by eggs growing on trees.
Overall, the exhibition takes about two hours to experience, with timed admission to ensure you don't have the typical crowded museum experience — which adds to the experience.
"I feel like there's never been something like this before, you know, a surreal experience, as the saying goes," Buitriago says. "The thing is being able to see everything together in one place — original paintings, original sculptures, augmented reality, an immersive room, virtual reality. We try to do the best of every single exhibit in one."
"Surreal 360: a Salvador Dalí Experience." Ice Palace Studios West Building, 71 NW 14th St., Miami; surreal-360.com. Tickets cost $20 to $44. Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.