Most of us know Leonardo Da Vinci as the Renaissance painter famous for the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper.” But Da Vinci produced much more than just those few works of art in his 67 years. Taking a special interest in flight, light, anatomy, music, engineering and hydraulics, he was the creator of countless imaginative inventions.
“Da Vinci the Exhibition” at the Carnegie Science Center brings many of his ideas and creations together in one place to immerse visitors in Da Vinci’s world. The exhibit, which was produced by the Atlanta-based company Imagine Exhibitions, features over 60 reproductions of his inventions and 20 fine art replicas—all true to size.
Upon entering, visitors encounter a two minute video that serves as an introduction to Da Vinci, his life, and the inventions on display. The rooms of the exhibit are organized according to Da Vinci’s various interests.
To make the exhibit more interactive, visitors are able to touch more than half of the inventions. Signs on each display denote which can be touched. There are also interactive activity tables. Some of the activities include mirror writing, building bridges, coloring the Mona Lisa and building your own paper plane to see if it can fly.
Nicole Chynoweth, Carnegie Science Center’s manager of marketing, public relations and social media, said the hands on activity tables are popular with children and adults alike.
“All of them I think have been pretty successful so far,” Chynoweth said. “I was here Saturday, opening day, and the mirror writing one really got people because it’s so challenging, they seemed particularly fascinated by that one.”
Some of the inventions on display are also interactive experiences, including an armored tank in the military room that children can go inside.
According to Chynoweth, the Science Center chose to put this exhibit on display because it is an all ages show that offers something for everyone. For art lovers, “Da Vinci The Exhibition” provides a chance to see some of his most famous works without travelling outside of the United States. Some of the true to size replicas on display include “The Last Supper,” “The Annunciation” and “Virgin of the Rocks.”
“[This exhibit] was at the top of our list because it so clearly demonstrates a lot of the concepts that we try to work into all of our exhibits here, which is hands on experiences and interactive experiences in science and technology,” Chynoweth said.
Senior Director of Exhibits and Experience Dennis Bateman emphasized the Science Center staff’s excitement. Bateman said that they jumped right into researching Da Vinci and brainstorming how to engage with the public through the exhibit.
The public’s reception of the exhibit has been quite positive, according to Chynoweth. A lot of the draw seems to come from the fact that most people had no idea that Da Vinci had such a wide variety of interests. All of his areas of expertise make him the perfect example of a Renaissance Man, although many of his inventions and accomplishments went unrecognized until after his death.
Chynoweth says that Carnegie Science Center always hopes to inspire and expand the minds of all of their visitors. Science is not a separate entity from creativity, she said, and Da Vinci’s exhibit is a perfect example, as he believed science and art were deeply interconnected.
“There is an additional educator’s guide that teachers can go on our website and download so that whenever they bring their field trips here, there’s more material that they can take back to the classroom and connect the concepts here with whatever they’re teaching at school,” Chynoweth said.
The guide includes an overview of each section of the exhibit, questions for students while walking through and activities and questions that can be completed in the classroom to help students reflect on their experience.
So far, it seems like the Science Center’s mission to inspire through this exhibit has been a success. Chynoweth says that students are leaving feeling empowered by Da Vinci’s message. In a society where people may feel they can only be one thing, Da Vinci’s message provides a new outlook for visitors. Chynoweth spoke of one student who voiced this realization while touring the exhibit with her class.
“There was a class of school students here last week, and one of the students mentioned how the exhibition showed her that she can pursue so many different interests and studies,” Chynoweth recalled. “She can dabble in so many different things and learning does not have to be limited to one particular field.
“Da Vinci really did it all and I think that is inspiring to visitors of all ages, to just motivate you to dive into anything you’re curious about.”
Seeing visitors of all ages explore the exhibit, their curiosity and intrigue was evident. Everyone was interested in finding out more about Da Vinci and what his brilliant mind had to offer the world.
“Da Vinci had endless curiosity, and curiosity is definitely something that we try to inspire in all of our visitors as they explore Carnegie Science Center,” Chynoweth said.
“Da Vinci the Exhibition” opened on Saturday, Feb. 16 and will remain open until Sept. 2. Tickets can be purchased for just this exhibit or along with tickets to see the rest of the Science Center.