Da Vinci – The Genius exhibition now open at Cincinnati Museum Center

CINCINNATI – Painter. Inventor. Sculptor. Musician. Engineer. Genius. Leonardo da Vinci was all of these and more. Da Vinci – The Genius, now open at Cincinnati Museum Center, brings the full scope of da Vinci’s brilliance to life in an interactive exhibition featuring full-scale interpretations of the Italian mastermind’s inventions and unparalleled studies of his iconic art.

Mona Lisa Da Vinci - The GeniusMany know da Vinci as the painter of the “Mona Lisa” or “The Last Supper,” but he was much more than that. He was the ultimate Renaissance man, a self-taught artisan regarded as a genius in his own time. Da Vinci – The Genius reveals the incredible breadth of da Vinci’s talents in 17 themed galleries with over 200 pieces, including more than 70 life-size inventions, entertaining animations of his most notable works and an eye-opening, in-depth analysis of history’s most famous painting, the “Mona Lisa.” Visitors can push, pull, crank and interact with many of these pieces for a hands-on understanding of the science behind the genius.

“Leonardo da Vinci is the ultimate example of the mind’s capacity to learn, imagine and create without limitation,” said Antonella Bigi, consular correspondent of the Consulate of Italy. “He was not just a genius in his time, but a genius for all time. The Italian community is thrilled that Cincinnati Museum Center is sharing the true scope of da Vinci’s work and brilliance with the Greater Cincinnati region.”

Da Vinci’s genius is undisputed but he left behind very few examples of his ideas. He never actually built many of his most brilliant inventions. And what few do exist have been ravaged by the test of time. What he did leave behind were his codices – tiny notebooks of drawings and writings on a variety of subjects. Among the drawings are blueprints for some of modern society’s most impactful inventions, such as the helicopter, airplane, automobile, submarine and parachute. Da Vinci – The Genius brings to life over 70 of these life-size machine inventions, each crafted by Italian artisans using the same techniques and materials from the Renaissance period. Scouring more than 6,000 pages from da Vinci’s personal codices, the artisans deciphered hidden clues, intentional mistakes and mirror-image writing that da Vinci employed to keep his works top secret.

“This man universally known as an artist is now getting his due as an inventor, engineer and scientist,” says Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “This exhibition is a fun and fascinating intersection of history, science, art and technology and a perfect example of why you should always keep learning and never stop testing the limits of what’s possible.”

The most illustrious component of Da Vinci – The Genius is arguably the Secrets of the Mona Lisa gallery, featuring the findings of French engineer and examiner of fine art Pascal Cotte. Granted unprecedented access to the “Mona Lisa” by the French government and the Louvre Museum , Cotte was permitted to take the “Mona Lisa” off the wall and out of its frame to conduct a scientific analysis. The investigation took more than two years and revealed dozens of secrets about history’s most elusive art piece, all verified by the Louvre Museum curators. The exhibition showcases Cotte’s studies and 25 of his most compelling revelations plus 40 super-magnified, high-resolution sectional images exploring every aspect of the work. Cotte will also present a free lecture and signing of his book Lumière on the Mona Lisa: Hidden Portraits Saturday, May 21 at noon as part of the exhibition’s opening. For more information on Pascal Cotte’s lecture visit www.cincymuseum.org/content/insights-lecture-series.

Other exhibition highlights include reproductions of “Virgin of the Rocks,” “The Annunciation” and the controversial new da Vinci discovery “Bella Principessa,” plus amazing anatomical sketches and the preparatory drawings of the “Anghiari Battle.” The artist’s famous fresco “The Last Supper” is displayed at actual size (29 x 14.5 feet) with educational animation presentations. Da Vinci’s famous “Vitruvian Man” and the Golden Ratio are also included, along with the “Sforza Horse” sculpture, a massive statue that was destroyed by an invading French army, erasing 16 years of work before it could be cast in bronze. Guests will also get a glimpse into da Vinci’s mysterious alphabet and writing techniques as they browse touchscreen versions of his actual codices.

Da Vinci – The Genius presents the mind and works of a man whose brilliance has only been enhanced by the test of time. The interactive, hands-on exhibition presents the timeless blend of science, technology, engineering, art and culture in a way that will challenge you to pursue knowledge and dare to dream.

Da Vinci – The Genius was developed by Grande Exhibitions, under the kind auspices of the Comune di Roma, Comune di Firenze and Cittá Di Venezia and with the assistance of Pascal Cotte of Lumière Technologies, France.

Da Vinci – The Genius is open through September 25 at Cincinnati Museum Center. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.cincymuseum.org/exhibits/da-vinci-the-genius