We recently visited the temporary Da Vinci, The Genius Exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and it was wonderful! The exhibit will be in Albuquerque through July 29, so if you get a chance to go, I recommend it! The exhibit is comprised of two parts: an inventions area that has seventy-five large-scale models of his machine inventions created by modern day artisans and an art works area including a special section all about the fascinating Mona Lisa. When I first heard about this traveling exhibition, I was very excited that we would get to see it in Albuquerque. Quite honestly, I knew da Vinci was an amazing man but I didn’t realize just how much of a genius he truly was. I was amazed at the sheer scope of his works. This was a man who was not idle! I walked around in awe at all that he accomplished in his life.
The first thing I learned was that he had a unique way of writing – in mirror-image cursive. Some say it was a way of guarding what he was writing about as you have to concentrate to read it. But most likely, it was because he was left handed and it was easier to write that way and the ink would not get smeared. Pretty cool no matter how you look at it.
Here are some pictures from the inventions area:
One of the inventions I found most fascinating was the mechanical drum. Leonardo’s idea was to make a mechanical device that could be pulled by a horse or two men and would replace a dozen battle drums. Traditionally, hundreds of drummers would accompany the army with their rhythmic sound of drumming. The mechanical drum could fool the enemy into thinking the army was bigger than it was (and maybe spare the lives of a few drummers!)
Another fun invention – a portable piano!
I have to say though that this invention was a bit scary:
It’s a room full of mirrors so that when you walk in, you can see yourself from all angles. Yikes! We jokingly referred to this as the room of regret. haha!
So many fabulous ideas and many of them were too advanced for his era. Imagine what he could have done with today’s technological advances?
But on to the artwork, which da Vinci is most known for:
A whole room dedicated to the secrets of the Mona Lisa. All of it was quite fascinating but the thing that intrigued me the most was the fact that da Vinci never felt the painting was completed and worked on it until he died.
The painting that I found most interesting, however, was of John The Baptist.
It’s difficult to see in the photo but his smile had a mystifying quality to me. Was it a smirk? Almost as if he knew some secret. And why was he pointing upward? I learned that when John and Jesus were depicted together in a painting, John would frequently be pointing at Jesus, however when John was depicted by himself, he points to Jesus in his heavenly residence.
Throughout the exhibit, there are quotes from da Vinci and two of them really resonated with me.
Wise words and da Vinci certainly lived his life by them.
Tragically though, despite his many amazing accomplishments, I found this quote very sad:
So now you may be wondering why my post title has Big Bird in it. Well, let me tell you! Since the da Vinci exhibit is located in the Museum of Natural History and Science, our ticket included a free planetarium show. So when we were done exploring, we headed to the first available show. We could only see titles of the shows and no descriptions. No big deal. I mean the title of our show was One World, One Sky. Sounds good, right? Well, as it turns out, the show’s description was given as we settled into our seats: Join Big Bird, Elmo, and their new friend from China as they find simple shapes in the stars above Sesame Street and then take a trip to the moon. *head smack* Yeah, that was not the kind of show we had anticipated! haha! Well, learn from us and go to the website of the museum which gives descriptions of all their planetarium shows. Duh.
Anyway, it was still a fun time and I am now utterly fascinated by da Vinci – currently reading a book about his life!