USFSP, Dalí Museum Partnership Illustrates Artful Collaboration

The Dali Museum

The Dali Museum

The partnership between USF St. Petersburg and The Dalí Museum continues to serve as a unique learning opportunity for students. The two organizations have had strong connections for many years but in recent years have tightened their ties and increased collaboration.

“It’s one of the strongest partners we have in the community—not only because of the physical proximity of the two institutions, but because of the similar approach to inspiring others,” said Dr. Frank Biafora, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The Dali Museum uses the art of Salvador Dalí to inspire; USFSP, by its very nature as an institution of higher learning that transforms lives, is in the inspiration business.”

Students and faculty from the university’s colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business and Education have been involved with the Museum in a variety of ways, including class projects, internships, or other collaborations. Faculty from the three colleges and the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library have presented as part of the free joint lecture series “The Genius Next Door,” which allows faculty to share their knowledge and research in the fields of art, business, education, and science—always with a twist of considering what Dalí would think.

This semester, Janet Keeler, visiting assistant professor and coordinator of the Food Writing and Photography Certificate Program at USFSP, collaborated with The Dali on its special exhibition “Ferran Adria: The Invention of Food.” The exhibit, which runs through Nov. 27, showcases the work of Adria, a chef and restauranteur from Spain whose gastronomic work is world renowned.

“Executive Director Hank Hine contacted me over the summer about getting the food writing students involved,” said Keeler, who was invited with her students to meet Adria at the press preview of the exhibition and to write stories about the exhibit. “A week later, we returned to The Dalí for a private tasting of the Adria-inspired gazpacho being served in the Café Gala and to interview Chef Chuck Bandel.”

Since 2011, Dr. Cynthia Leung, professor of Education, engages graduate students enrolled in her summer “Writing and Writers: Trends and Issues” course to collaborate on a project that teaches them to connect writing and art in their curriculum as teachers.  Leung estimates about 60 students who are classroom teachers in local schools have participated in the project.

In 2014, the university and Museum offered a collaborative course on artistic and literary movements titled “Dada & Surrealism: Art, Literature, Film.” The course, taught by Peter Tush, curator of Education for The Dalí, brought together USFSP students and Museum docents-in-training. Tush previously collaborated with Dr. Deby Cassill, professor of Biology, on a series of lectures that merged art and science in discussions about select works by Salvador Dalí.

The partnership between the university and Museum dates back to when The Dalí was founded in 1982. Mention of The Dalí was even included in the 1985-1990 USF Strategic Plan, when USFSP was referred to as the USF Bayboro Campus.

“Under leaders such as Lowell Davis and Bill Heller during the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, exploratory conversations about partnerships became actual initiatives,” said Jim Schnur, librarian of Special Collections and University Archives.

Future collaborations are still unfolding. In January, Kate Tiedemann College of Business Professor of Innovation and Management Steve Diasio will begin a new project with The Dalí. Students enrolled in his Strategic Management capstone course will work together to apply the strategic toolkit they’ll learn in class to develop initiatives that aim to attract beachgoers to the Museum.

“My hope is that we can go to the beach to research and visit The Dali to understand the visitors’ experience and gain inspiration that will provoke creative solutions,” said Diasio.

As it has for many years, The Dalí Museum continues its longstanding tradition of providing complimentary admission to USFSP students, staff, and faculty who present their university ID cards (cards must be the new cards dated 2015 and forward to indicate USFSP). USFSP Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska serves on the Museum board of directors.