The Exhibition

LEONARDO DA VINCI EXPERIENCE

Leonardo Da Vinci, the Universal Genius, marked the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern age, creating works of art and projects that hide features and symbols which are still, even today, shrouded in mystery.

Fifty inventions made according to Leonardo’s sketches and faithful reproductions of the most famous paintings of all time are now finally on display in an immersive and engaging way that will enable the public to experience a veritable multimedia journey through painting, mechanics, detailed themed projections, holograms and educational audio recordings.

For the first time in Italy, the Leonardo Da Vinci Experience exhibition features a full-size reproduction of the Last Supper, the controversial painting at the centre of Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code.

The reproductions of the paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci were done by Bottega Artigiana Tifernate, and are all effectively masterpieces in their own right that meet the standards of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism. The twenty-two works on show include: The Mona Lisa, the Lady with an Ermine, Ecce Homo and the two versions of the Virgin of the Rocks, all faithfully recreated in scale 1:1 with the original materials used by the artist.

The Leonardo Da Vinci Experience, on Via della Conciliazione, just a stone’s throw from St. Peter’s Basilica, provides a unique opportunity to admire Leonardo’s machines, paintings and most famous fresco brought together for the first time.

ROOM I

The flying machines, the last supper

The first room of the Leonardo Da Vinci Experience exhibition is dedicated to flying machines. During his studies for the Flight of Birds, Leonardo began designing some machines that would make human flight possible. These include a prototype of a hang glider and the Aerial Screw, designed to be made of wood, linen and wire, a veritable predecessor to the modern day propeller. It is said that Leonardo’s screw never flew because the force of the four men who had to operate it by turning the shaft bars was not sufficient.

The same room showcases the life-size reproduction of the Last Supper, one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s most famous paintings, together with the Mona Lisa.
The original painting, preserved in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, has unfortunately suffered serious damage caused by damp over the centuries. This work was not made as a normal fresco, but using a technique studied by Leonardo so as not to be constrained by the speed of execution typically required for frescoes. The Last Supper remains a painting full of mysteries to this day: is it John the Baptist or Mary Magdalene sitting to the right of Jesus? Who does the hand clutching a dagger belong to? What is the meaning of St. Peter’s hand gesture?

ROOM II

War machines

Da Vinci’s Codices Arundel and Atlanticus contain numerous studies of military machines and weapons. One example is the ground-breaking invention of the tapered projectile, the same kind used by the British at the Battle of Waterloo.
The second room of the Leonardo Da Vinci Experience exhibition features some of the most fascinating war machines built to Leonardo’s designs: the Catapult, conceived to overcome fortified walls, the lethal Cannon and the innovative Multi-Directional Gun Machine with twelve barrels arranged in a semicircle which could be raised and lowered to adjust the range.

The Room of Mirrors is also located in this room: an ingenious chamber with eight mirrored walls allowing an object to be viewed in its entirety without having to move it. Seeing is believing!

ROOM III

The perspectives

Painter, sculptor, engineer, scientist. Leonardo Da Vinci was the most ingenious mind of the Italian Renaissance. Some of Leonardo’s studies anticipated the most revolutionary inventions in the field of photography and film by several centuries.

The third room of the Leonardo Da Vinci Experience exhibition showcases some of Leonardo’s most brilliant insights in the field of Optics and Music, a subject he referred to as the “little sister of painting”. The Perspectograph and the Projector, which interact with the properties and behaviour of light and the Double Flute, one of the most fascinating wind instruments designed by Leonardo during his studies on the Physics of Sound.

ROOM IV

Principles

In the fourth room of the Leonardo Da Vinci Experience exhibition the experience reaches its peak. How many everyday objects exist because of the talent of the Universal Genius?

The spring, the elastic element par excellence, designed by Leonardo in the Codex Madrid; the Study of Chains and the Bicycle, the sketch of which was only discovered in 1966 stuck between two pages of the Codex Atlanticus; the Trench Digger, designed to dig a canal to join the Arno river to the sea; the Webbed Glove, the precursor to modern-day flippers; the Life-preserver, the Jack or Crick and many more.

ROOM V

Gallery of paintings

The Leonardo Da Vinci Experience offers, for the first time ever, the chance to view almost all the pictorial production of the Universal Genius at the same time.

The fifth room of the exhibition houses the Gallery of Paintings with twenty-two works: the two versions of the Virgin of the Rocks, the originals of which are located at the Louvre and London’s National Gallery respectively; the Lady with an Ermine, the painting with which Leonardo revolutionised classical portraiture through the use of an innovative position of the torso of the model, Cecilia Gallerani; The Portrait of a Woman, also known as the Belle Ferronière, a work that demonstrates Leonardo’s ability to portray enigma and mystery in the subject’s averted gaze; the Portrait of a Musician in the Flemish style; the two versions of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder and the Annunciation, which has obvious errors of perspective such as Mary’s disproportionate arms, which Leonardo wanted in anticipation of the “awkward” placement of the work.

The exhibition is a veritable experience. Never before has the public had the chance to view in one go so many works by Leonardo, including the MONA LISA.