An acquaintance with the works of Leonardo reminds us of his genius

The exhibition Da Vinci Inventions is to be held at the National Art Museum of Belarus for the first time

The exhibition Da Vinci Inventions is to be held at the National Art Museum of Belarus for the first time, it will also be the first time the works have been on display in the country
The exhibition Da Vinci Inventions is to be held at the National Art Museum of Belarus for the first time, it will also be the first time the works have been on display in the country

Expectations surrounding the exhibition are high. Minsk is proud to be one of the host cities on the Da Vinci Inventions world exhibition route. This is an event not to be missed.

The project was created by an Australian company and is unique in the world by being the biggest mobile exhibition devoted to Leonardo da Vinci. The exhibition is not only an example of impressive art, the organisers point out its high educational value and obvious advantages for students who can learn lessons in physics, mechanics, optics, hydraulics, anatomy, civil and military engineering.

Exhibits of the Da Vinci Inventions exhibition in Minsk arouse interest at sculptor Ivan Misco (on the extreme left)

Da Vinci Inventions exhibition enables even the youngest to touch the genius’ creations

What is there to see at the exhibition? Firstly, there are impressive full-sized models created by modern Italian masters according to the drawings and sketches of the great Leonardo. There is, for example, an odometer, a wheelbarrow with cogs on its wheels that can simultaneously measure distances accurately. Or a self-propelled cart, which is a prototype of a vehicle, that moves with the help of a crossbow mechanism. One of the most surprising exhibits is a machine for scuba diving. Da Vinci suggested it should be made from waterproof animal. A flexible reed tube is strengthened with metal spirals and special valves regulate the intake and release of air. According to Leonardo, with equipment such as this, it would be possible to repair ships underwater. Da Vinci studied the theory of flight by studying the example of birds and bats; he analysed in detail the anatomy of their wings, and as a result came to the conclusion that people cannot rise into air like birds, their muscles simply not being adequate for the purpose. He invented devices that foreshadowed the modern hang-glider, aeroplane and helicopter. The exhibition demonstrates how scientists imagined a parachute, a tent made from starched linen. In the museum’s rooms there are more than 60 models presented, from a catapult to pointed bullets, from a jack to the model of an ideal city, all the embodiment of the works of an ingenious inventor and scientist. The Italian masters who brought his ideas into life, used techniques and materials from the time when Leonardo lived. For this purpose they carefully studied more than six thousand pages of da Vinci manuscripts, decoding his codes and mirror writing along the way. Consequently, the exhibition has been in preparation for ten years.

The exhibition is also very picturesque. Visitors can see such paintings as La Giaconda, The Madonna Litta, John the Baptist, The Virgin of the Rocks and others. These pictures are full-scale digital reproductions using modern techniques to replicate the painting process. It is not necessary to go to London to the National Gallery to admire Leonardo’s masterpieces or to hasten to visit the French Louvre; the mysterious smile of the Mona Lisa can be seen today in Minsk. Short videos tell the story of how some of these canvases were created. It is said that Leonardo da Vinci observed the residents of Milan for three years before he chose the ideal models for his Last Supper. The exhibition includes also da Vinci’s manuscripts and his notes on anatomy. It shows the versatility and incomparable genius of this great and mysterious person who lived five hundred years ago.

Maxim Berin, producer explained, “The event was created in 2006, and has travelled through many countries, attracting millions of visitors. We planned that it would remain in Minsk for one month. But now that tickets to Da Vinci Inventions have been sold out several weeks before, I cannot say the exact date. The exhibition will close when the Minsk public wants it to.” The show has moved to Minsk from Tel Aviv. The Belarusian capital became the 56th city to see the most well known models of this ingenious artist and inventor. In order to recreate in detail each of the mechanisms described by da Vinci in his diaries, the Italian experts worked for several years. A lot of time was spent not only on the decoding of the old Florentine dialect, but also deciphering the famous ‘handwriting of Leonardo’, mirror writing. It is also known that da Vinci intentionally misrepresented the sizes of his drawings so that his competitors were unable to use his ideas.

Gerard Beckinsale, the creator of the exhibition enthused, “The space in the National Art Museum is ideal for holding our exhibition. Having seen the halls for the first time, I was very impressed; this is just what we need! It was necessary to repaint the walls in some of the halls. But it is normal practice in the exhibition in order to show the exhibits off to their best.”

Many of da Vinci’s ideas from the Renaissance era, were only recently discovered in their contemporary forms. The screw to power the flying machine, crane, parachute and even aqualung were known about by da Vinci at the end of the 14th century. In total, the exhibits number more than two hundred objects: from sketches to machines. The Academic Secretary of the National Art Museum, Alla Gavrilova, said, “Leonardo da Vinci was ahead of his time. We know him as an ingenious artist, but da Vinci was also a talented inventor, scientist and engineer. The exhibition opens our eyes to Leonardo’s work in different spheres such as physics, mechanics, civil and military engineering, anatomy and hydraulics.” Moreover, the exhibition is interactive and many mechanisms can be touched or even played with.

Australian company Grande Exhibitions has created a unique and extensive mobile exhibition devoted to Leonardo da Vinci. Developed together with the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Italy, this exhibition is the embodiment of the genius of Leonardo as an inventor, scientist and engineer. The exhibition totals 200 exhibits created by Italian handicraftsmen precisely following the manuscripts of da Vinci. The exhibition has already travelled through many countries. In the halls of the National Art Museum of Belarus there was an early tank, aqualung, flying machine, bicycle, parachute, submarine, ideal city and many other inventions just as Leonardo da Vinci imagined them in the 15th century. These are only some of examples that it is possible to see at the exhibition.
By Victor Mikhailov
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