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Salvador Dali’s “Dream of Venus” Pavilion Site

Long before installation art was the norm, Salvador Dali created perhaps the first example at the 1939 World’s Fair that was held in Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York.

The 1939 World’s Fair sounds incredible. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Albert Einstein spoke, Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid” and the Magna Carta were on display, Westinghouse buried a time capsule to be open in 6939 AD (some contents include writings by Einstein and Thomas Mann, a pack of Camel cigarettes, microfilm with texts, seeds and a Mickey Mouse watch). The fair debuted color photography, nylon, air conditioning, the View-Master and Smell-o-Vision, and had “zones” debuted “future technologies” by companies like GM and Frigidaire.

Salvador Dali, World's Fair, Dream of Venus, Flushing Meadows daliqueens4 daliqueens6 daliqueens7 daliqueens2 daliqueens3 daliqueens1

Dali’s pavilion was entitled “Dream of Venus,” and was a surrealist dream world. Patrons entered through a pair of women’s legs (John Malkovich copied this for his Lisbon Nightclub called “Lux”- it is a weird place), and purchased tickets from a fish head booth. Dali designed two pools where topless sirens and mermaids swam about, women dressed as pianos and lobsters cavorted amongst paintings and props in front of a giant four paneled painting by Dali, and other tableaus with costumes designed by Dali.

Sadly, creative compromise happened even then. The fair organizers made major modifications to Dali’s original ideas, which caused him to dramatically write a pamphlet called, “Declaration of the Independence of the Imagination and the Rights of Man to His Own Madness.”
Although Dali wasn’t thoroughly satisfied, the exhibition brought Surrealism and Dali’s creative ideas out of the artistic world and to the masses.

Who: Salvador Dali

What: Dream of Venus Pavilion site

Where: Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, New York 11367

7 Responses to “Salvador Dali’s “Dream of Venus” Pavilion Site”
  1. I dream of Dali’s Dream of Venus Pavilion from the 1939 Worlds Fair in Queens @artnerdnewyork

  2. CurtisLize says:


  3. Randy Mauck says:

    The bottom picture in the piece on Dali at the 1939 World’s Fair is actually from the 1965 World’s Fair. It was the New York pavilion and parts of it are still standing and were used in the film “Men In Black.”

  4. Cathie Labrador says:

    Dear Lori:

    Could you tell me where you found the World’s Fair images of the Venus pavilion? We’d like to use them in an upcoming book. Thank you,


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  1. […] always loved the idea of the time capsule. There’s one I mentioned at the 1939 World’s Fair site in Queens, not to be opened until  6939 AD. There’s the one in my parents’ back yard that I buried for […]

  2. […] love this costume for Dali’s Dream of Venus pavilion that was at the 1939 World’s Fair in […]

  3. […] this massive scale and staggering level of craftsmanship.  It reminded me of Salvador Dali’s Dream of Venus exhibit—part installation art, part performance art, and utterly […]

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