Saint Petersburg, 1 July 2010
Eleanor Morse passed away on 1st July. She was 97 years old. Together with her husband, Reynolds Morse, founded the Salvador Dalí Museum in Saint Petersburg (Florida) in 1982. They donated to the museum their huge collection of Salvador Dalí works, becoming the point of reference in America. It is the most important private collection of Dalí works in the world. Reynolds Morse had passed away in 2000 at the age of 85.
Eleanor Morse was born in 1912, daughter of a Cleveland (Ohio) pharmaceuticals manufacturer. She studied Music in Italy and earned a Master’s degree in French and Spanish in Case Western Reserve University. In his turn, Reynolds was from Colorado, he got a degree at the Harvard Business School and founded a company which manufactured plastics. They got married in 1942, a couple of weeks after they met in a retrospective exhibition on Dalí in the Cleveland Art Museum. In March 1943 they bought their first Dalí painting Daddy Longlegs of the Evening, Hope! as a belated wedding gift. In April 1943 they met the Dalís in person. They used to visit them often in New York, Paris and even in their coastal villa in Portlligat. In 1971, the Morse inaugurated their first museum in Beachwood (Ohio) to show their collection, in a public event with Dalí himself presiding over the festivities. In 1979 the Morse already owned 94 oil paintings, 150 watercolours and drawings and more than 1.000 prints and other objects. In 1982 the museum moved to Saint Petersburg (Florida). Eleanor Morse was very much involved, as long as her health allowed for it, in the design of the new museum to open next January 2011.
One of her mayor contributions was the translation of English texts by Salvador Dalí into French and Spanish, such as Dalí by Draeger (1968) and The Tragic Myth of Millet’s Angelus (1986). For helping disseminate Dalí’s writings, he was twice decorated by the French government and in 1989 she was awarded by King Juan Carlos of Spain with the Cross of the Officer of the Isabella the Catholic, the highest honor given to a non-Spanish citizen.
Over the last years, the Dalí Foundation has strengthened its relationship with the Museum in Florida, and an agreement allows both institutions to collaborate in many projects around the world. The Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí would like to express its deepest condolences to the family and to the Board of the Salvador Dalí Museum in Florida.