Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius

Inventor, artist, scientist, anatomist, engineer, architect, sculptor, philosopher. Although Leonardo da Vinci died in 1519, his enduring influence comes to life in the new exhibition, Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius. You will see why the ultimate Renaissance man remains an inspiration for the ages!

  • See nearly 70 of Leonardo’s machine inventions, built using detailed concepts from his famous codices (notebooks), including a helicopter, airplane, automobile, submarine, and military tank.
  • Explore the exclusive “The Secrets of Mona Lisa,” an analysis of the iconic painting conducted at the
    Louvre by scientific engineer and photographer Pascal Cotte.
  • Be immersed in Leonardo’s works through a multisensory cinematic experience using Grande
    Exhibitions’ SENSORY4 technology.
  • Test a Leonardo-inspired catapult, and encounter the Museum’s historical enactors, presenting
    characters who bring a personal perspective to the story of Leonardo.

The experience has been created by Grande Exhibitions and Pascal Cotte.

At-a-Glance Information

WHEN: March 1–August 25, 2019
WHERE: Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, dmns.org
HOURS: Open 9 a.m.–5 p.m., daily, with extended hours at various times
TICKETS: Timed tickets required and advance reservations encouraged. Buy tickets online or call 303.370.6000. Guests pay $28.95 adult, $24.95 senior (age 65+), $20.95 junior (ages 3–18); prices include Museum admission. Members pay $7.95 adult, $6.95 senior (65+), $4.95 junior/child. Students receive 10 percent off adult admission with their ID. An audio guide is available for purchase at the gallery entrance. If you need to reschedule your tickets, please call Guest Services at 303-370-6000 at least 24 hours in advance of your scheduled time. A $5 per request rescheduling fee will be added to your order when you reschedule Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius tickets.
GROUP SALES: Discounted tickets are available with advance reservations for groups of 10 or more. Contact 303.370.6000 or [email protected].
PARKING: Parking is free but can be challenging during popular times. Alternative transportation is encouraged. Bike racks are available, and Lyft offers $5 off three rides for new users with the code DMNSNEW.
ORGANIZERS/SPONSORS: The experience has been developed by Grande Exhibitions and Pascal Cotte. The exhibition is presented in Denver by the Sturm Family Foundation.

The Experience

Although Leonardo is one of human history’s most famous people, he left behind very few tangible examples of his studies and works. Surviving artifacts are in private collections or on permanent display in a small number of renowned museums around the world. Fortunately, Grande Exhibitions, the creators of Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius, collaborated with the Museo Leonardo da Vinci in Rome and experts from Italy and France to build Leonardo’s machine inventions and create beautiful reproductions of his codices and paintings.
About 6,000 pages of Leonardo’s notes and sketches of his artistic, scientific, and technical observations remain; most are bound into books called codices. Guests will be introduced to his genius through carefully created reproductions of several of his codices.
Leonardo’s scientific and technical ideas inspired future advancements for many machines and devices. The creators of the exhibition, Grande Exhibitions of Australia, in collaboration with Museo Leonardo da Vinci in Rome and experts from Italy and France, used Leonaro’s detailed drawings and notes to build his machine inventions. Some are scaled down, some are life-sized, and others are oversized.
Grande Exhibitions said the artisans “had to learn an old Florentine dialect, interpret Leonardo’s shorthand and mirror writing, and analyze his intricate drawings, sometimes laboring through page upon page of drawings of the same invention as Leonardo strove for perfection. They have scoured 6,000 pages of notes to decipher the ‘patents’ Leonardo put in his work—deliberate mistakes, misleading information, and scattered ideas.” The results are Leonardo’s machine inventions brought to life, using the materials and techniques of 15th-century Italy. Nearly 70 machine inventions are displayed, some with mechanisms guests try out for themselves. Highlights for each section are listed below.
CIVIL MACHINES: self-propelled and crank-operated cars, odometer, interactive jack and rolling ball bearings, various styles of cranes, and a model of the “Ideal City” 
MILITARY ENGINEERING: various cannons and gun machines, ogival bullet, giant crossbow, interactive catapults, assault ladder, a covered cart for attacking fortifications, and an emergency bridge

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Museum Experts

These are the spokespersons from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science for the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius. The curators and educators provide professional expertise from their respective fields of study to enhance the content and experience in the temporary exhibitions hosted by the Museum.

Nathan Hayes is an educator and coordinator for the Outreach Team in the Museum Programs Department. Since joining the Museum in 2013, Hayes has developed and delivered science programs that reach more than 50,000 students in Colorado schools each year. He is a licensed teacher with a master’s in educational psychology from the University of Colorado.

Jennifer Moss Logan is an educator and content specialist in the Museum Programs Department. She joined the Museum staff in 2000 to define and develop programming for the permanent exhibition Space Odyssey. Moss Logan earned her bachelor’s degree in astrophysics at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. She has served as educator for 13 temporary exhibitions, including Dead Sea Scrolls. She is also coordinator of the Museum’s popular historical enactor program.

Stephen Nash, PhD, is curator of archaeology and chair of the Anthropology Department. He joined the Museum staff in 2006. He earned his PhD from University of Arizona. He studies a wide range of subjects, including dendrochronology (tree-ring dating), the Mogollon archaeology of west-central New Mexico, and Russian gem-carving sculptures by Vasily Konovalenko. Nash serves as a curatorial advisor for temporary exhibitions at the Museum related to archaeology and human cultures around the world.

Samantha Sands is an educator and program specialist who joined the Museum in 2010. She is the staff educator for the permanent exhibitions Prehistoric Journey and Space Odyssey and was the lead educator for the Snowmastodon Project. Sands earned her bachelor’s in environmental geology from the University of Michigan and master’s in museum studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has served as educator for 10 temporary exhibitions, including Vikings: Beyond the Legend.

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Quick Facts

Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452, in Anchiano, Italy, near the Tuscan town of Vinci. He was born out of wedlock to a notary and a peasant woman.

At age 14, Leonardo became apprentice to Verrocchio, one of the most esteemed Florentine artists of the day. He worked with Verrocchio and other famous painters, including Perugino and Botticelli, during the formative years of his life.

Leonardo never received a traditional formal education. His natural gifts caught the attention of his mentors. Verrocchio was particularly impressed when they collaborated on The Baptism of Christ (1475) because of Leonardo’s innovative oil painting techniques.

Leonardo moved to Milan around 1481 after convincing Duke Ludovico Sforza of his talents as an artist and engineer. Leonardo’s work began to expand to studies of architecture, military engineering and strategy, mechanical flight, theatrical production, and music.

From 1495–98, Leonardo painted The Last Supper in Milan at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Soon after, Louis XII of France seized Milan, and Leonardo returned to Florence.

In 1502, Cesare Borgia briefly employed Leonardo as his military architect and engineer.

Leonardo began Mona Lisa in 1503, but the painting remained unfinished at his death years later.

In 1504, Leonardo started on the Battle of Anghiari fresco in the Republic of Florence assembly hall. After many technical challenges, the mural was never completed and was painted over in 1565. However, Leonardo’s remaining sketches show the drama of his concepts.

Leonardo accepted an invitation from François I to move to France in 1516.

After suffering a stroke in 1517, Leonardo died on May 2, 1519, in Clos Lucé, France. He is buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert in the castle of Amboise.

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Reservations available at dmns.org/eventsandactivities. Schedules subject to change.


Renaissance Revelry
Test thy jousting skills and attend court with our historical enactors who set the stage for some fun and frolic. Forget ye not one of the most influential historical figures as ye explore extraordinary art and inventions in our temporary exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius. Drink and be merry for tickets include one drink and appetizers. Costume and period dress encouraged.
Friday, April 5 • 7−10 p.m. • $38 member, $43 nonmember • Ages 21+

Digital Earth: Italy
Become a world traveler from the comfort of a planetarium seat! Italy is your destination as you follow the path of Leonardo da Vinci along the waterways of Venice, marvel at the streets of Rome, and roam the Tuscan landscape using immersive satellite images of Earth projected onto the full dome. Geologist Dr. Bob Raynolds and space science curator Dr. Ka Chun Yu will be your guides on this journey.
Tuesday, April 23 • 7 p.m. • Gates Planetarium • $8 member, $10 nonmember

The Anatomy of Leonardo: The Animal as Machine
Most people know Leonardo da Vinci as a painter, sculptor, and inventor, but he was much more. Leonardo was fascinated by the mechanics of the human body and dissected bodies to intricately study anatomical structures and reflect his observations in his work. This course with Dr. Sue Ware explores the pioneer anatomist through his illustrations, comments, and personal history. Learn the details of how he explored the internal workings of the animal body and how anatomy is the “hub” of many of today’s scientific disciplines. Includes lectures, virtual labs, and an exclusive evening in Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius.
Mondays & Wednesdays, May 5–16 • 6:30–9:30 p.m. • $150 member, $180 nonmember

Art into Science, Science into Art
Leonardo da Vinci’s eclectic interests inspired him to explore technological and scientific potentials that his contemporaries could not imagine. He constantly innovated as he designed imaginative machines and created highly original works of art. Dr. George R. Bent, Sidney Gause Childress Professor of the Arts at
Washington and Lee University, examines one of Leonardo’s most important scientific exercises—his detailed study of human anatomy—and connects this work to his truly advanced approach to representing the human form in his paintings. Leonardo’s art, we will see, depended on his scientific discoveries, but his scientific
contributions, we will also see, could not have been articulated without his total mastery of art.
Tuesday, August 20 • 7 p.m. • Phipps Theater • $12 member, $15 nonmember

Dinner and da Vinci • All ages
Ever wonder what it would be like to have dinner with a genius? So do we…however, we have the next best thing by pairing a dinner worthy of the Renaissance with Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius. Grab your thinking cap as we get exclusive access to this new temporary exhibition with family-friendly activities such as catapult competitions, city planning, robotics, and more.
Wednesday, March 13 • 6–9 p.m. • member: $20 adult, $15 junior • nonmember: $25 adult, $20 junior

Da Vinci: The Inventor • Grades K–2
What do you and Leonardo da Vinci have in common? An ability to think outside the box to solve problems? Maybe….A knack with machines and brilliant mind for design? Possibly….A super awesome beard? Probably not, but you both would love this workshop! During this four-hour experience, you’ll learn all about what made Leonardo da Vinci a master of medieval engineering. From his self-driving car to his scuba suit, you’ll explore the concepts that made him famous. After being inspired by a visit through the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius, you will build your own inventions to solve modern-day engineering problems.
Saturday, March 9 • 10 a.m.–2 p.m. • $40 member, $50 nonmember

Da Vinci: The Artist • Grades 3–6
What do Leonardo da Vinci and you have in common? A keen eye for the natural world? Maybe….An incredible ability to record this world in your artwork? Possibly …. A super awesome beard? Probably not, but you both would love this workshop! During this four-hour experience, you’ll learn all about what made Leonardo da Vinci a master of High Renaissance art, visit the exhibition, Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius, and make your own masterpieces of scientific illustration.
Saturday, March 9 • 10 a.m.–2 p.m. • $40 member, $50 nonmember

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Additional Exhibition Resources

Exhibition Catalog

Purchase now, redeem in the Museum Gift Shop starting February 28, 2019 through August 25, 2019.

Audio Guide

An audio guide is available to purchase on-site, subject to availability. The audio guide is $4 for members, $5 for nonmembers.

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