Lonely Planet Writer

Meet Salvador Dalí this spring (with a little help from technology)

The most famous surrealist of all time is making a comeback 30 years after his death, with some very advanced technology.

Dali died 30 years ago this month. Photo by Terry Fincher/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty

The Salvador Dalí Museum in St Petersburg, Florida has brought the artist ‘back to life’ thanks to artificial intelligence. When ‘Dalí Lives’ opens in April, guests can interact with the famous artist throughout the museum and learn more about his life and work.

The museum teamed up with creative company Goodby Silverstein & Partners to use cutting-edge artificial intelligence to create the experience. Firstly, the museum collected hundreds of pieces of archival footage, interviews and quotes. The agency then fed this information to an artificial intelligence algorithm.

They then hired an actor that shared similar physical characteristics with the artist to perform. The AI generated an image of Dalí’s to match the expressions of the real actor, with the result that it appears the real Dalí is walking and talking long after his physical death.

This innovative use of technology is something the museum believes Dali would approve wholeheartedly in and maybe even envisaged himself. “Dalí was prophetic in many ways and understood his historical importance,” said Dr. Hank Hine, executive director of The Dalí in a statement.

“He wrote: ‘if someday I may die, though it is unlikely, I hope the people in the cafes will say, ‘Dalí has died, but not entirely.’’ This technology lets visitors experience his bigger-than-life personality in addition to our unparalleled collection of his works.”

Florida’s museum is the second-largest collection of Dali artwork in the world. Photo by Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

This digital rendition of Dalí isn’t just about a highbrow use of technology. Dr Hine told Artnet that 97% of guests said they wanted “more digital interactive experiences” in a recent poll. The museum has more than 2000 pieces of work from Dali, the largest collection of his work outside of Europe and the second-largest in the world.