The Leonardo i.lab is an interactive lab where you can research and experiment first hand Leonardo da Vinci’s working method. Here art and science are closely connected. Completely renovated in 2018, it is a working space, half-way between the Atelier of an artist and the Workshop of an artisan.
New activities are constantly designed by the educational staff of the Museum in order to offer new and engaging educational tools and experiences. Examples of themes and educational trails include:
These activities involve participants in the handling of large scale models of flying and yard machines to explore and better understand Da Vinci’s technical research. The machine models can be studied in their components, disassembled and re-assembled to grasp the mechanical laws that govern them.
Handles, pinions, cog-wheels, belts: how do gears work? How can they be combined to build a moving machine? These activities present hands-on experiments to learn how basic mechanical components function and what movements they produce following physical and mechanical laws.
To better understand the laws of geometry and statics and think about the competences of Renaissance architects, these activities entail the building of arches and the understanding of how they work to support great architectural structures.
Using mortar and trowel, colours and brushes, participants are invited to paint in fresco following all the phases identified by the Renaissance artists. These activities shed light on the way workshops were organised at the time of Leonardo da Vinci.
Participants are invited to experiment how to distemper on a wall, approaching and understanding the technique that Leonardo da Vinci used to paint his famous Last Supper.
Why did Leonardo write backwards? Participants investigate this curious phenomenon while experimenting with renaissance writing tools such as quill-pens and ink.
These activities entail the use of perspective machines to help participants draw and represent the world by reasoning about the laws of optics and geometry.
The new Leonardo i.lab represents an important educational resource. It develops and offers specific programs for different targets.
The Leonardo i.lab was one of the first interactive laboratories opened at the Museum. Its history dates back to 1995, when the Museum chose to place side by side in its core exhibition Gallery the historical models built in the early 1950s and a number of interactive models. In 1998 the Museum opened a separate lab space where the study of the Leonardo da Vinci could be deepened using purposely-built handling models of his machines. In 2006 new activities, devoted to the exploration of the artistic techniques of the Renaissance, were designed.
The current Leonardo i.lab is a new and important tool for the Museum in the sphere of STEM education, allowing to explore Da Vinci’s work by experimenting personally his working method to stimulate new ways of thinking and making. From the study of nature to the planning of great working machines, from technical drawing to the anatomic study of the human body Leonardo operates at the border between Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. In the i.lab all activities aim to engage participants in a personal explorations and experimentations, inspired by Da Vinci’s extraordinary curiosity and thinking strategies.
The i.lab is divided into two characteristic spaces:
The lab occupies an area of 110 sqm. at the core of the Monumental Building of the Museum, next to the permanent gallery dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. The space is accessible directly from the gallery and visible from the exhibition space to create a metaphorical dialogue between historical display and educational activities.