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Léonard de Vinci. Projets, dessins, machines

Forty historic models of machines by Leonardo da Vinci from the collection of the Museum are on display at the historic and interactive exhibition in Paris, devoted to Leonardo.

The exhibition

Exhibition designed and developed by Universcience in cooperation with the National Museum of Science and Technology “Leonardo da Vinci” and the Deutsches Museum in Munich. In the context of the international relationships cemented among these three cultural institutions, they have been preparing a historical and interactive exhibition for over two years, devoted to Leonardo da Vinci, which is presented for the first time at the Citè des Sciences et de l’industrie on October 23rd 2012 and it will last until August 18th 2013.

From the left Jean Botti, Chief Technical Officer at EADS, Fiorenzo Galli, General Director of the National Museum of Science and Technology, Claudie Haigneré, President of Universcience

Watch the TG1 report from October 24th (italian)

The display allows a large audience to discover the scientific-technical work by Leonardo da Vinci, focusing on its method of work and on the connections with the historical and technological context of his time.

Léonard de Vinci. Projets, dessins, machines Forty historic models from the collection of the Museum alongside interactive and multimedia installations are the underlying theme which enables to explore the evolution of Leonardo’s career as engineer and technologist.

Curiosity, learning desire, the observation of nature, flexible and transversal thinking allowed Leonardo to inquire the universe and its laws. To what extent can contemporary research be inspired from his method of work, and to what extent can innovation be inspired by nature? These questions are the base of the “modern counterpoints” in the exhibition, where it is possible to become acquainted with interesting examples of research in the field of contemporary biomimetics.

The exhibition was supervised by Claudio Giorgione, curator of the Department Leonardo Art and Science of the l Museum and Éric Lapie, curator of the Cité des Sciences et de l’industrie, it develops in six thematic areas which explore Leonardo’s personality through historical models, interactive multimedia, exhibits and animations:

  • Transforming motion, where you can discover how the apprenticeship in Florence by Verrocchio was an occasion for Leonardo to observe and to encounter the engineering tradition.
  • Preparing for war, to learn more about the activity of military engineer at the court of Ludovico Sforza in Milan
  • Getting inspiration from nature, to explore how nature and its forms are sources of inspiration and observation for today’s scientists and engineers.
  • Imagining flight, aimed at understanding to what extent careful observation of nature, living beings, their morphology and their movements represent the base for Leonardo’s research on flight.
  • Improving production, to discover a maybe less known aspect of Leonardo’s activity, for which he imagined mechanical systems that could automatize some activities connected with textile production.
  • Unifying knowledge, which reveals the extraordinary synthesis ability in different disciplines and the curiosity towards the world of this versatile personality.

Léonard de Vinci. Projets, dessins, machines

Alongside the exhibition, the Museum proposes a variety of activities for the generic public and for schools: theatre entertainment on the topic of mechanics, several labs where it is possible to observe and experiment levers, pulleys and gears, to grasp how they work and also to understand how to analyse and to restore paintings or how scientific drawing reflects the evolution of knowledge.

During the exhibition, the visitors of the Museum will still be able to admire the historic models on display, which will bring them through the most important technical-scientific domains explored by Leonardo, thanks to the interpretation of his drawings.

Léonard de Vinci. Projets, dessins, machines

For the inauguration of the exhibition the catalogue Léonard de Vinci. La nature et l’invention is presented, created under the supervision of Patrick Boucheron and Claudio Giorgione, and published by Universcience Éditions and Éditions de La Martinière.
The book contains a preface by Claudie Haigneré, President of Universcience, by Fiorenzo Galli, Director General of the National Museum of Science and Technology, and by Éric Lapie, as well as an introduction written by Claudio Giorgione and Patrick Boucheron, professor of Medioeval History at Paris-Pantheon-Sorbonne University. The chapters “Transforming motion" and "Imagining flight" were written in Italian by Claudio Giorgione, while the chapter "Unifying knowledge" was written in Italian by Pietro C. Marani, tenured professor of Modern Art History at Milan’s Politecnico University.

Official website of the exhibition (in French)


Léonard de Vinci. Projets, dessins, machines
Citè des sciences et de l’industrie | 23 October 2012 | 18 August 2013

30, avenue Corentin-Cariou
75019 Paris
MM Porte de la Villette

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