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Science Museum to launch Leonardo da Vinci exhibition on 10 February 2016

"I have always felt it is my destiny to build a machine that would allow man to fly."

– Leonardo da Vinci

  • Tickets now on sale for Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius
  • UK premiere of internationally-acclaimed touring exhibition
  • Major show explores the unique mechanical concepts of one of history’s greatest minds
  • 10 February – 4 September 2016
  • Admission: £10, concessions available
  • Tickets: sciencemuseum.org.uk/leonardo

Tickets are now on sale for Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius, a new exhibition opening at the Science Museum on 10 February 2016. The UK premiere of this visually stunning exhibition highlights the immense talent that sparked the polymath’s reputation as an exceptional and enduring inspiration in the fields of engineering and art.

Predominantly recognised as one of history’s greatest painters, Leonardo da Vinci was also a uniquely gifted draughtsman. Using close observation and taking inspiration from the natural phenomena around him, Leonardo created a remarkable body of mechanical drawings that showed a radical approach to the challenges of flight, manufacturing and war. The Mechanics of Genius brings the intricate mechanical concepts of this restless and curious mind to life in a major interactive exhibition.

At the age of 20, Leonardo was employed in a workshop on the site of Florence cathedral. Influenced by the engineers and mathematicians of the time, he started to make drawings of cranes and machinery, often trying to improve on the efficiency of their existing designs and processes.

The exhibition takes the machines that Leonardo drew and exquisitely reinterprets them in three-dimensional form, alongside games and multimedia installations. He demonstrated through his drawings a unique ability to recognise solutions to engineering problems in the world around him, and translate these into remarkable new concepts for machines that foresaw many aspects of the modern world. The legendary painter of The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa had an extraordinary skill in drawing and draughtsmanship which set his work apart from that of his contemporaries.

The 39 historical models in the exhibition—including flying machines, diving apparatus and weapons—were made in Milan in 1952 in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s birth. They are displayed across the five sections of the exhibition, each of which focuses on a different area of knowledge and expertise within his practice.

In discovering how Leonardo was inspired by the natural world’s responses to problems such as flight, based on billions of years of evolution, the exhibition also considers the influence today of biomimicry by exploring the iterations of his research in modern robotics and aeronautics.

Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum, said:

"Leonardo da Vinci is one of history’s greatest independent thinkers, whose determination to imagine the world anew inspired humankind for generations and will continue to do so for generations to come. We hope this unique exhibition helps our visitors to understand more about his skilled and innovative approach to engineering and to be inspired to look afresh at the world around them."

The Science Museum’s collection contains a number of objects relating to a celebration of Leonardo’s 500th birthday which took place at the Royal Academy in 1952. A curated selection of these objects, relating to Leonardo’s ideas in the areas of mechanics, manufacturing and flight, will go on display at the entrance to the exhibition.

Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius opens on 10 February 2016 and will run until 4 September 2016 at the Science Museum in London. Tickets are on sale now. Visit sciencemuseum.org.uk/leonardo for further details.

This exhibition was conceived by Universcience in cooperation with the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci (MUST) and with the support of its industrial partner Airbus Group. The exhibition is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Notes to Editors

About the Science Museum

As the home of human ingenuity, the Science Museum’s world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Welcoming over 3 million visitors a year, the museum aims to make sense of the science that shapes our lives, inspiring visitors with iconic objects, award-winning exhibitions and incredible stories of scientific achievement. More information can be found at sciencemuseum.org.uk.

About Airbus Group

Airbus Group is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2014, the Group—comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space and Airbus Helicopters—generated revenues of € 60.7 billion and employed a workforce of around 138,600. Visit airbusgroup.com

About People’s Postcode Lottery

People’s Postcode Lottery is a charity lottery. Players play with their postcodes to win cash prizes while raising money for charities and good causes local to them. As an External Lottery Manager, People’s Postcode Lottery manages multiple society lotteries promoted by different causes and supporting a range of good causes. For details on which society lottery is running each week, visit postcodelottery.co.uk/society.

About Discover South Kensington

Discover South Kensington brings together the Science Museum and other leading cultural and educational organisations to promote innovation and learning. South Kensington is the home of science, arts and inspiration. Discovery is at the core of what happens here and there is so much to explore every day. discoversouthken.com