Monday, November 3, 2008


It was a very rainy Saturday so we thought it would be a great day to see the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit at the Tech Museum. It is its first appearance in the U.S. after being organized in Europe and so of course we had to go :-) But, I think that EVERYONE else had the same idea. We waited in a 15 minute line to even get tickets, but were able to do everything we wanted. We first saw the IMAX movie called "Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk". This film was about extreme risk takers like skydiving and basejumping. Even after seeing this movie, I don't think I will ever do either of these because I was so nervous even just watching the movie. William said that "he would go if I wanted him to", but he still hasn't given me a clear answer on if he actually wants to do it. I think its safe to say that that is one adventure we won't be having any time soon. The film also showed them making a copy of one of Leonardo's parachutes that he detailed in his Codice. Up until this event, no one had ever actually made one to see if it would work. Amazingly, it did and the "experiement was a success" but we thought it was only a partial experiement of its efficacy because they just elevated it with a hot air balloon and then dropped it where it coasted for several thousand feet before the rider cut himself loose and used a modern parachute to make it back to the ground. If Leonardo's parachute was so great, they why didn't he land with it? It was neat though that he was able to conceptualize it.

We then went to the basement where we thought the start of the exhibit was. We went in and saw 2 paintings, neither of which are for certain that of Leonardo. I mean, they were nice paintings from Italy but they had their own giant room. We walked through and then existed and were shocked that was "all there was" to the exhibit since the entry fee was fairly large. The guard saw our confused faces and said that the main exhibit was actually up one floor. And it was enormous. We spent nearly 3 hours exploring it. I loved this model they have of the Duomo in Florence. We had both been there but it was incredible to see just how much detail went into the construction of. Here is an inside view (sorry for the poor quality- no flash allowed) and they even sketched the murals on the top of the dome
And the completed outside
The exhibit provided models of the tools used to assemble the dome, as well as the sketches of it. Now, Leonardo didn't build the dome, but he studied the techniques and made his own designs/drawings of them. The exhibit had this great computer program that animated the machines and demonstrated how they built the Duomo.

Several other rooms contained even more studies, designs, and models of Leonardo's machines. He felt that machines had a few key "organs" similar in concept to those of the body. And he studied every possible way they could be organized, modified, arranged to be more efficient and workable. But, Leonardo also had an eye of looking towards the future like looking for possibilties of human flight. I loved this replica of the human flight machine that tried to mimic the wing movements of birds
William was fascinated by the designs and spent much more time with them than I did. I am definitely not a physics/machine person- I get the basic ideas but overall, just really don't get the specifics. Chemisty and biology always made much more sense to me. William was so patient and would explain things to me when I didn't get them. I mainly watched several of the movies that they had explaining about different restoration projects of his artwork.

The thing I had never realized about Leonardo is that his painting was all about math and geometry. Everything needed to be in perspective and with "golden proportions" like the Vitruvian man. As they analyzed and highlighted these features in his work (that I sadly hadn't really noticed before), I now have an even deeper admiration for this artist, whose work not only looks good, but it amazingly calculated and planned.

Another film that we both saw explained how Leonardo came up with this unique way to make a giant horse from only 1 casting. He spent years on the project, yet then a war occurred taking away his funding and so he was never able to actually cast it. They created what it would have look like. For size comparison, I've included William as perspective- they could only fit half the horse in the exhibit
But outside, they had a complete replica- it was pouring rain so I didn't get a closer photo of it
This is a must see exhibit that increases your appreciation for this true renaissance man, who LOVED learning and trying to understand the world.

1 comment:

Baldersons said...

We were there on Saturday too...except we didn't go to the Leonardo portion of the museum since we haven't even done the basic tech museum stuff but I definetely want to go back!