The Current Exhibits at the National Geographic Deserve More Time Than I Have Given Them (17 cents)

The National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, having displayed the Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors to great success, needed to find a worthy follow-up. And they certainly did with Leonardo da Vinci.

There is a new museum in Rome devoted to the study of da Vinci’s many accomplishments, and the display of his many creations. The museum has put together a traveling exhibit to give you the idea of the breath of da Vinci’s interests and achievements.

Primarily through the use of models (some life-size, some on a smaller scale, and many hands-on), you see da Vinci’s inventions, their simplicity and their practical use, as well as how many became prototypes to later achievements. All sorts of measuring devices, and leveraging devices, but also ships and gliders and parachutes and more and more. In addition, there are detailed photographic and chemical studies of both The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa, and the codexes in which so many of his notebooks have been bound.

I am not sure anyone can absorb much of this in one visit – but you can certainly appreciate what is there, and how one man visualized and created it.

The second exhibit, across the hall (and both of these are sizable shows) is an exhibition both very different and very similar. Called Design for the 90 Per Cent, or something like that, it shows the basic, simple designs being created to enable people living in third and fourth world conditions to have an easier time with their crops, with their transportation, with electric assistance, with computers, and so forth. The items on display were designed by teams of engineers and inventors – could Leonardo da Vinci figured them out all by himself?


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