By Kate Kenney
Cambridge, MA – Inside the Museum of Science is a dark room full of realized dreams that’s hosting a temporary exhibit from Grande Exhibitions and Pascal Cotte, France: “Da Vinci — The Genius,” an exhibition that allows visitors into Leonardo da Vinci’s world with a behind-the-paintings look at some of his most infamous creations.
One side of the room is decorated with large wooden models depicting da Vinci’s finest experimental designs. What were once simply notebook sketches have now been realized into life-sized hand-crafted models. Structures range from a canvas parachute that could be easily mistaken for architectural art piece, to a Jules Verneian — and honestly terrifying — diving suit complete with webbed flippers. Many of the objects show da Vinci’s curiosity in military engineering. A large wooden catapult and tank show his imaginative ideas on how to revolutionize defensive weaponry. Placards of da Vinci’s original sketches are helpfully displayed before the model, giving one a sense of how detailed his visions actually were.
One of the show’s most exceptional pieces is “Meccanismo d’Orologio,” a wooden clock designed from da Vinci’s sketches by a 90-year-old artisan from da Vinci’s home of Vinci, Tuscany. True craftsmanship and the delicate arrangement of art and function give viewers a sense of the timelessness of da Vinci’s creations. A surprising find in the exhibit is a set of two costumes da Vinci crafted for a duke, Ludovico Sforza. Both men’s and women’s dress are featured with draped yellow velvet and green embroidered trim. They are both elegant and fun in color and design.
Across the room is the artwork of da Vinci with a focused look at the “Mona Lisa.” A replica model of the painting hangs in a clear glass display that allows viewers a 360 degree look at the painting, unframed, as only a curator or specialist would see it. A feature on recent studies of the “Mona Lisa” with The Layer Amplification Method show the various pieces of the painting that have been painted over or hidden by the artist. With new advances in technology curators have uncovered certain hidden aspects, such as small pentagrams, which give evidence that earlier sketches of the “Mona Lisa” were that of a goddess or saint.
“Da Vinci — The Genius” gives viewers at glimpse of the artists’ virtuoso spirit and a love for invention and craft. One can only marvel at da Vinci’s work brought to life with such detail and care.
(“Da Vinci— The Genius” continues through February 26, 2017 at the Museum of Science, 1 Science Park, Boston. For more information, call (617) 723-2500 or visit mos.org/exhibits/da-vinci-the-genius.)