New interactive exhibit at Discovery Place proves Leonardo da Vinci was a freakin’ genius

 By Dora Blaskievich

November 3, 2017

I recently had the opportunity to check out the new Da Vinci’s Machines exhibit at Discovery Place, and being the secret geek that I am, I relished the chance to see his sketches and paintings come to life. With over 75 reconstructed inventions categorized in five themed areas: War Machines, Flying Machines, Nautical & Hydraulic, Principles of Mechanics, and Artwork, visitors can interact with the machinery to see how these items work (touching is allowed!). Some of the machines will be familiar, some will look quite strange, but all will leave you in awe of what one man’s brain was capable of inventing. The “Last Supper” and “Mona Lisa” also make an appearance.

Photo by Dora Blaskievich

Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452 in Florence, Italy. Renowned as a painter during his lifetime, he kept many sketchbooks of his ideas, experiments, and projects. These books are known as Codices. After his death, his apprentice, Francesco Melzi inherited them, but only about a quarter of the manuscripts have survived. Da Vinci wrote his notes in mirrored writing, to keep his secrets from being stolen.

Here are some reasons you should check out the exhibit:

See the original mechanism that’s now used for the fidget spinner. It’s a set of balls with a spindle system that keeps the balls moving in the correct direction. Who knew that a system that was used once to turn heavy loads is today’s mindless distraction.

O.G. Fidget Spinner photo by Dora Blaskievich

Find out why he’s called a Renaissance man. His interests spanned from fine art, to biology, to military machinery to flying machines. Without any formal education, da Vinci was inspired by the natural world as a teenager. His only real training was in painting, which his father disapproved of.  

A lot of our modern conveniences are based on da Vinci’s 500 year old ideas. Bicycles, scuba gear, helicopters, oil drills, cars, even ice picks used by alpine climbers.  

Play with the machines. Crank wheels, play a rudimentary drum set, step into a hall of mirrors, and spin a perpetual motion prototype.

Experience da Vinci’s ideas in action. Take a break from modern technology, and get the real life appreciation of one man’s genius.

Da Vinci’s Machines exhibit opens on November 4 and runs through May 2018.  

Learn more about Discovery Place.

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