An exhibition to re-discover Leonardo Da Vinci and the specific nature of his genius in order to create a link between his approach and contemporary research.
The exhibition is based around the magnificent collection of machine models of the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Technologia in Milan. These 40 models, created in the 1950s after Leonardo’s drawings, together with the attendant interactive exhibits and films, allow visitors to understand who Leonardo was, this painter, engineer, favourite of princes, but also a man of his time, a free spirit with an extraordinary curiosity for the phenomena which he observed in nature.
Today, researchers are also studying nature closely and drawing inspiration in creating new materials and machines, so adopting Leonardo’s intuitive approach.
This exhibition is aimed at a broad public, families, youngsters and group visits.
Through to 18 August 2013 at the Cité des sciences, Paris.
The exhibition is organised into 7 parts:
- 1 - INTRODUCTION
- 2- TRANSFORMING MOVEMENT
- 3- PREPARING FOR WAR
- 4- INSPIRATION FROM THE LIVING
- 5- IMAGINING FLIGHT
- 6- IMPROVING MANUFACTURING
- 7- UNIFYING KNOWLEDGE
1 - Introduction
Leonardo da Vinci is a legendary figure, hence certain misunderstandings concerning his drawings of machines. Were they all inventions? No. Was Leonardo alone in designing machines? Again, the answer is no. Numerous engineers were doing likewise in the Renaissance period.
It is the quality of the drawing which makes Leonardo’s genius stand out. Drawing was his principal means of observation, study and representation of nature and techniques.
- The life of Leonardo
- The catapult and its 3D animated sequence (see)
2 - TRANSFORMING MOVEMENT
In 1469, Leonardo da Vinci began a stint in Verrocchio’s workshop. During construction of Florence cathedral, he observed lifting machinery designed by Brunelleschi and his first drawings of machines detailed improvements to existing mechanisms. Over the years, he designed increasingly sophisticated machines for transforming movement depending on the planned application.
3 - Preparing for war
During his first stay in Milan, through to 1499, Leonardo worked on multiple studies of fortifications and weapons, so extending his knowledge of ballistics and physics. In 1502, Cesare Borgia hired him as an architect and military engineer. His studies on trajectory and the impact of projectiles, as well as static fortifications, were among the most innovative of their day.
4 - Inspiration from the living
Although biomimicry, or rather bioinspiration, is a new discipline, it echoes one of Leonardo da Vinci’s enlightened ideas: looking to nature for technical solutions.
Whether in the field of materials, robotics or aviation, today’s researchers and engineers are inspired by the life forms and systems which have emerged over millennia of evolution.
5 - Imagining flight
Leonardo produced studies of flight at several periods in his life. The mechanical wings which he drew transposed his observations of birds in flight. But he also studied glided flight and developed instruments enabling the properties of air to be measured.
- Airship and its 3D animated sequence (see)
- Glider and its 3D animated sequence (see)
- With or without a skeleton
6 - Improving manufacturing
In Milan, Leonardo made textiles one of his primary areas for research in a bid to resolve the practical problems which he observed concerning the manufacture of ropes and felt, winding and carding. He improved existing processes by automating them. He applied his knowledge of engineering, along with his artistic talent, to the staging of shows and festivities, from machinery through to costumes and lighting.
7 - Unifying knowledge
As of his first Milan period, Leonardo developed a personal method whereby his observations of the world around him gave shape to his visions and allowed him to sketch out more general theories, so demonstrating his capacity for cross-cutting analysis and the thorough assimilation of sources. His interest in movement would henceforth be reflected in experiments on friction or perpetual motion.
After 1500, his drawings increasingly focused on the study of nature, with anatomy, physics and hydraulics all taken in their theoretical dimension.