I stopped by the Maryland Science Center for a sneak peek at their new
show Da Vinci — The Genius, which opens Saturday October 3, 2009 and
runs through January 31, 2010. While this is a very grown-up show, they also have kid-friendly activities. My favorite parts are the working models that are marked with a "please touch gently" symbol. The intricately built models show Leonardo's sketches for mechanical studies in real life, with cranks that turn and pulleys that lift. There is even an example of one of his military inventions, an emergency bridge, where kids will be able to experiment with building their own small scale version with wooden logs.
I love the replicas of his journals, all written backwards to reduce smearing (he was left handed). Me? I just put up with the smearing. Leonardo? Writes backwards. Genius.
His paintings are also explored; from the Mona Lisa, to the Last Supper, to a new work just discovered in 2008. All replicas, of course, since the originals are fragile and priceless, but seeing his artwork side by side with his other work really gives you a sense of the broad scope of Leonardo's accomplishments: artist, city planner, inventor, military strategist, scientist.
Now about the title, Da Vinci — The Genius. I have no doubt that he was a genius. But the da Vinci part? Even though I nodded off more than a few times in my art history class, I still retained enough to know that his name was not da Vinci anymore than my name is da Baltimore. His name was Leonardo, and he was from the town of Vinci. I asked the reason for the name. "That's what most people would recognize." But I think we deserve a little more credit than that, even if we are not geniuses.
That said, this is the most comprehensive exhibit ever produced of possibly the most brilliant person that ever lived. And you've gotta love that.
601 Light Street
Baltimore, MD 21230