Salt Lake City’s Leonardo museum brings Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions to life

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Men and women of the Renaissance didn’t have the Internet at the touch of their fingers to learn about the world; they had to learn how the world worked on their own.

The “Da Vinci – The Genius” international exhibition, which opened earlier this semester in Salt Lake City’s The Leonardo museum, showcases the products of Leonardo da Vinci’s curious imagination and discovery.

Bryton Sampson, who works in communications for the museum, explained that da Vinci could inspire the smallest child to the wisest scholar.

“Da Vinci was such an interesting man with such varied pursuits that I think really all audiences can find something to take away from it,” Sampson said. “Things like his ball-bearing systems don’t really jump out at you as being amazing, but they’re essential components of  the machines we have today. He’s  one of the greatest minds the world has ever seen; he’s fascinating.”

Sampson explained how the driving force behind da Vinci’s inventions and discoveries was simply curiosity.

“I have this thing in my pocket, my iPhone, that can give me the answers to any question I could ever have in a matter of seconds,” Sampson said. “Leonardo da Vinci didn’t have that. If he wanted to know about how a bird flies, he had to go watch birds and draw them and study them. It’s so interesting because it’s rare to have that much curiosity and that much drive to want to know how the world works, and that is what I think is most fascinating about him.”

The exhibit houses 75 life-size models of some of da Vinci’s most well known inventions, such as the beginning structures of helicopters, submarines, bicycles and parachutes. These models were based off of da Vinci’s own notebooks, which had to be deciphered by Italian artisans to decode da Vinci’s sometimes cryptic notes.

Dr. Joe Andrade, renowned scientist and science advisor to The Leonardo, added that even though da Vinci did not have any formal education, he was still able to learn and apply what he learned to art, philosophy, science and more.

“His goal was to learn from every project he ever did, and to push the limits,” Andrade said. “It shows an important part of learning, which is critical thinking. We should be always questioning and being interested in a wide variety of things, and knowing that everything is interconnected and make use of it to everything else. Thinking inside the box was completely ridiculous to him, and you can see that in the exhibit.”

The exhibit helps viewers understand the theory and objectives behind each of da Vinci’s designs and teaches the background of some of his most famous works, including a multimedia interactive mini exhibit dedicated to understanding da Vinci’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa.

“This exhibit is an ideal way for The Leonardo to give the people of Utah and other visitors a 21<sup>st</sup> Century perspective on the man who inspires this first-of-a-kind museum,” said Executive Director Alexandra Hesse in a news release. “Through writings and sketches, models of his inventions, and high-tech explorations of his artwork, visitors of all ages will see da Vinci’s relentless curiosity at work and marvel at the way his genius continues to influence us more than 500 years later.  We hope this celebration of one extraordinary man’s drive to explore connects visitors to their innate curiosity and inspires them to see, nurture and stretch their own unique genius.”

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