You may not know it but Leonardo Da Vinci plays a large part in your everyday life.
The Italian polymath may be most notable for the Mona Lisa and the Vitruvian Man but his genius was truly remarkable, one that spanned across numerous areas of study from physics and engineering to architecture and even music.
If you’re curious and want to get to know him better, you need not spend a hefty sum for a trip to Europe.
You only need to drop by SM Mall of Asia for Da Vinci’s Workshop, an extraordinary exhibit that features 64 interactive inventions and paintings by the world-renowned Renaissance man.
The grand launch was held on July 24 and I thanked my lucky stars that I had the chance to be a part of it. The exhibit has been shown in different parts of Europe and America but this is the first time it has reached Asian shores.
“I think not everybody has awareness that (Da Vinci) invented so many things,” says Ezequiel Pena, who is part of Aurea International Exhibits of Argentina, the group that brought Da Vinci’s Workshop to the Philippines.
“As a matter of fact, before I started getting involved with Da Vinci’s work I also didn’t know that and every day I find out things that he invented,” he says.
I found out through Ezequiel that Da Vinci was born out of wedlock to a father who was a notary, and a peasant woman. Because of this, he did not have a surname. “Da Vinci” actually means “of Vinci,” referring to his birthplace. I also found out that he invented something you and I use very often. “He invented the napkin, because in those days people ate like barbarians,” shared Ezequiel.
A look inside the exhibit
Unlike other exhibits where you can’t touch anything, Da Vinci’s Workshop is one that encourages you to move the pieces to understand their significance. Walking through the exhibit felt like I was back in my World History and Physics classes (lessons which my selective amnesiac brain has already forgotten).
The replicas were crafted by Italian artisans who translated and deciphered Da Vinci’s sketches and drawings or codices as they are referred to. Images of these codices are shown on the label plates with the name and description of each piece.
Here are some of the most interesting ones:
Da Vinci had an interest in military engineering and worked as an artist and military strategist for Ludocico Sforza, the Duke of Milan during his time.
He designed weapons and vehicles. Using merely logs or twigs, the Cantilevered Bridge or Safety Bridge was designed for soldiers on the move which can be built and held together without using a rope or nails. Guests can attempt to build a mini version of the bridge using the bamboo rods on the floor.
His drawing of the Armored Tank showed a turret at the top where one soldier can be positioned to give directions while eight other men operate the cranks attached to rollers at the bottom to make the vehicle move.
Horses pulling a chariot with rotating scythe blades made up the Scythed Car. The blades protect the horses and the chariot was designed to prevent them from fleeing during a battle.
Da Vinci also studied and devised pulleys for lifting heavy weights. The Compound Hoist consists of 33 pulleys and a 1-kilogram counterweight lifting a 33-kilogram weight.
He also made early studies of devices now used in motors and automobiles. The Fly Wheel Sustain was inspired by a potter’s wheel and its principles have been applied to creating modern mechanical devices such as friction motors used in toy cars.
Fly Wheel Sustain
Have you ever had a flat tire and used a jack? Guess what: Da Vinci invented the jack, too, which he called the Toothed Rack.
A drawing of a bicycle was discovered in the 1960’s but it is still unconfirmed if it was Da Vinci’s or made by one of his students.
Flight was also one of his fascinations and keenly observed the way birds flew. He made the early models of the parachute designed with 7-meter long wooden poles, an Air Glider and an Aerial Screw, whose mechanism is similar to the modern helicopter. He also made the early concept of weathervanes with his Anemoscope.
Hard to miss is the model of Da Vinci’s Ideal City, an idea that he conceived after the plague that hit Milan in 1484. His design consisted of connected canals for trade and sewerage system, wide roads, and elegant-looking buildings with arches and pillars.
Change a Life
Painter, inventor, anatomist, engineer, architect, urban planner – these are just some of the things that the great Leonardo da Vinci was.
The opportunity to delve deeper into the inner workings of his mind and the inspiration it brings is quite priceless. As Ezequiel says: “It may change the life of a kid.” Make sure to bring curiosity and the young ones with you.
Visit Da Vinci’s Workshop at The Exhibit Hall, 2nd Level, South Side Entertainment Mall, SM Mall of Asia. The exhibit will run until January 2014. Tickets are at P200 each. For inquiries call 556-2153 or visit Facebook.com/DaVinciPh.