Salvador Dali Collection Finds a New Home at Museum of Monterey

Jul 7, 2016

Salvador Dali is returning to Monterey.  Back in the 1940s, the Spanish artist lived there part time.  Now Monterey will become home to the first permanent exhibition of his Surrealist work on the west coast in a new museum called Dali17. 

Dali17 is taking over the Museum of Monterey in the Custom House Plaza where a transformation has been underway for the past few months.

“I hope you are noticing a lot of changes,” says Dmitry Piterman, Dali 17’s Founder and Owner. 

Among the changes, “dark ceilings and gray walls and a lot of windows have disappeared on the inside, at least.   We needed more wall space, and also, the art that we are going to be displaying hates daylight,” says Piterman.

Piterman likes to call himself Ukrainian born, but American made.  He's an entrepreneur who made his money in real estate and sports.  He’s owned minor and major league soccer teams in Europe. He now lives in Pebble Beach.

The museum will display his personal collection of Salvador Dali artwork.  He started collecting in the 1980s and now has 577 pieces including etchings, mixed media and sculptures.  

His collection has been on exhibit in Spain and Belguim. When it opens to the public on Friday in Monterey, it will be the first of its kind on the West Coast.

“This is a place where Dali actually worked, so everything was almost destined to come here,” says Piterman.

Dali and his wife Gala lived in the United States for eight years beginning in 1941. They split their time between the East Coast and the Monterey Peninsula. 

They made a home at the Hotel Del Monte, which is now the Naval Postgraduate School.  It’s also the start of the original 17-mile Drive, which inspired the museum’s name Dali17.

While living here Dali became a member of the Carmel Art Association, collaborated with local artists and threw a legendary party.  The celebrity filled, surrealist dinner was captured in a 1941 newsreel that can be found on YouTube.

Dali17 will feature a room dedicated to the party, which captured the energy Larry Chavez wants to see at the museum.  He’s Board President of the Monterey History and Art Association.

“We want to turn a lot of heads. We want people to have that wow factor,” says Chavez.

MHAA will run the museum in partnership with Piterman.  Chavez says in recent years it became clear the museum needed to change from its focus on Monterey and maritime history.

“I used to sit at the window and watch the people on the wharf having a great time, and then walking right passed the museum into the parking lot and leaving,” says Chavez.

The museum will still have a section dedicated to local history.  But the hope is the focus on Dali will breathe new life into this building.   

“The more that we have to see and do here in the community, the better,” says Alliah Sheta of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau.  “So for those who have been here before it’s another reason to stay overnight.  And for those who are really big enthusiasts of Salvador Dali it’s another reason to come to our destination.”

The plan for the museum is to have a strong connection to the community by enlisting the help of volunteers, hosting art competitions and maybe even a Dali inspired Surrealist dinner.

“It’s pretty tremendous that an artist can live beyond his physical life to continue influencing people,” says Piterman.



5 Custom House Plaza, Monterey


Sunday-Thursday: 10:00am to 5:00pm

Friday and Saturday: 10:00am to 7:00pm

Admission: *

$20 Adult

$16 Senior (65+), Military and Students

$10 Children (6-17)

FREE Children 5 and under

*If you can find a pamphlet for Dali17, there’s a coupon inside.