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January 31, 2014

‘Da Vinci: The Genius’ comes to Cape Town

There are three classes of people: Those who see.
Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.
- Leonardo Da Vinci

Exhibition Space Image Courtesy of Great World Exhibitions (John Guest)

Walking through the ‘Da Vinci: The Genius’ exhibition at the Chavonnes Battery Museum in the V&A Waterfront, is like stumbling upon a porthole leading to a brilliant mind.

Leonardo Da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) is most commonly regaled as an artist, the creator of arguably the world’s most famous piece of art – the Mona Lisa. This exhibition of more than 200 pieces brings to life all of the other aspects of his genius – that of inventor, scientist, anatomist, engineer and architect.

Mona Lisa Image Courtesy of Great World Exhibitions (John Guest)

The models and life-size, interactive machines that make up the exhibition were crafted from images in his famous codices (journals) and show an imagination not decades but centuries ahead of its time. Some of the fruits of Da Vinci’s imaginings include warcraft like the tank and the machine gun, equipment that rely on mechanical principles and motion such as the flywheel and ball bearing; civil machines including a self-propelled car, submarine and musical instruments like the portable piano. And of course, a range of flying machines that foreshadowed the aeroplane, glider, helicopter and parachutes of today.

Flying Machine Image Courtesy of Great World Exhibitions (John Guest)

There shall be wings! If the accomplishment be not for me, tis for some other.
- Leonardo Da Vinci

Whilst there is no denying the spellbinding quality of the art works of the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and The Vitruvian Man – reproductions created for the exhibition because the originals are far too fragile to travel – it is his inventions that fascinated me most.  In 2000, a British man used a replica of Da Vinci’s parachute and jumped from a hot air balloon at 3000 metres, reporting a smooth flight and good landing. The official invention of the modern parachute is credited to Louis-Sébastien Lenormand in 1783; more than 260 years after Leonarda Da Vinci passed away.

The educational and inspiring exhibition is the ideal excursion for the whole family – some of the models may be touched and operated like the automated blocking mechanism – and is open from Monday to Sunday from 09h00 – 21h00. For the best of all worlds, Da Vinci, cheese and local wine, book your tickets now for the next ‘Da Vinci After Dark’ event on            6 February 2014.

Da Vinci: The Genius exhibition closes on Sunday, 9 February 2014.

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