MONTEREY, Calif. - Volunteers and staff worked to transform the Museum of Monterey into a surrealistic dinner filled with surprises Friday night -- one that would be fit for artist Salvador Dali and his guests.
"It will be the party of the year," said Katya Semmes, director of Dali 17 Mile Drive.
"We'll have live animals from Monterey Zoo with handlers, we'll have a flamenco band,” said Salvador Dali collector Dmitry Piterman. “We'll have aerialist, fire show performers."
The gala commemorates the 75th anniversary of Dali's original party thrown back in 1941 on the Central Coast to raise funds for displaced artists of the war. Proceeds from this year’s gala will go to the Monterey Zoo.
"Our goal is really to educate the community, share history,” said Semmes. “Get them to learn about the cause and the purpose of why we're doing what we're doing in this community. Bringing in this rich culture that existed here, the culture that was lost."
The museum now houses more than 580 pieces of Dali's artwork, named Dali 17 at the Museum of Monterey . The pieces were acquired from Piterman, whose been collecting Dali's surrealist paintings and sculptures for the past 30 years.
"To see the artwork displayed the way it is it actually makes me feel very good because I am able to share it with so many people and with the community," said Pieterman.
Pieterman said he chose to do a joint venture with the museum because it's where Dali lived and painted in the early 1940s. He was even a member of the Carmel Art Association.
"In 1941 Dali actually moved to Monterey and lived here until 1949,” said Piterman. “Europe was engulfed in war so he escaped because he was really concerned for his wellbeing and safety."
The Museum of Monterey now has the country's largest private Dali collection.
"Just adds another reason for people to stay longer and do more when they come to Monterey County," said Alliah Sheeta with the Monterey County convention and Visitors Bureau.
The exhibition has also garnered a lot of national press, culture tourists and visibility for the Monterey Bay.
"We've had about $4 million dollar’s worth of earned media value,” said Sheeta. “Earned media is what you'd normally pay for an ad, we get that in editorial coverage. We're really excited. It seems like there’s a lot of excitement out there around the new museum."
You can check out Dali’s collection seven days a week.