Artist, Architect, Engineer: The Leonardo Da Vinci Museum

Leonardo Da Vinci left a legacy impacting art, architecture, engineering and countless other topics. Highly varied in his skillsets, Leonardo’s name is one that is well known today, despite being born in the fifteenth century. Today we had to chance to explore the Leonardo Da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology. Housed in a former monastery, the museum is expansive in size and content. We were guided through exhibits centered on Da Vinci’s technology, historical Italian scientific developments, and modern day scientific developments. Leonardo left behind a fascinating legacy in both his scientific approach and the museum created in his name.

Walking through the museum we received a comprehensive history of Leonardo’s life. Leonardo was from the city-state of Vinci back before Italy was a unified country. “Da Vinci” literally means of Vinci. Leonardo wanted to be an engineer and create things, but couldn’t find the funding in Vinci. So, he petitioned the Duke of Milan to hire him as military engineer as the city-states were often at war with each other. While an amazing artist, Leonardo truly thought like an engineer. His concepts of inventions were all drawn showing individual mechanisms and pieces need to get the device to run. This was basically in the blueprint style. Often the blueprints also included a hypothesis of how the theorized device was meant to operate or perform. 

Leonardo’s design portfolio spanned from bridges and ships to his true obsession, flight. The museum had many models of his inventions constructed based off of his meticulously detailed blueprints. Unfortunately, not all designs could be realized due to almost half of his original sketches being lost to time. Many of Leonardo’s designs centered around bridges and boats because Leonardo was commissioned as a military engineer for Milan. However, the Duke of Milan was very supportive of Leonardo’s creativity and helped fund his inventions centering around flight. It is believed that Leonardo did achieve his dream to some degree as he had notes detailing the success of flights using different materials, but the details center around the strength of those materials in flight. This feat is extremely impressive. Leonardo’s vision and forward creative thinking put him centuries ahead of his time.

What was even more impressive though, was the artistry in both the designs of the inventions and the detail of the blueprints. Leonardo’s art background influenced his creativity and innovation, while his practical engineering mindset allowed him to theorize inventions and buildings that could realistically come to fruition. Leonardo was also very much a renaissance man, dabbling successfully in many scientific disciplines including botany, anatomy, and astronomy. I greatly appreciate Leonardo’s legacy of being both a great artist and a great engineer. Often in modern days it is not recognized that when applied in tandem logic and creativity can create mind blowing results. Thankfully we have Leonardo Da Vinci to prove that this is true.

Additionally Leonardo’s legacy is extended through the National Museum of Science and Technology being erected in his name. The National Museum of Science was one of the most comprehensive science museums I had ever seen. While including a great collection of Leonardo’s scientific advancements, the museum also featured the inventions of other Italian scientists. The museum had an outdoor extension centered around transportation. This featured both a large submarine, a warehouse of Italian boats and planes as well as a warehouse of Italian trains. The basement had a exhibit about various materials used in construction and technology. However, in my opinion the most notable exhibits were the interactive makerspaces and labs for children to use. The topics of the labs spanned from energy and the environment, to chemistry, to leonardo, to biotechnology and anything in between. The museums makerspaces featured many projects and ideas that integrated creativity with the created projects. It was nice to see Leonardo’s legacy of science and engineering as well as creativity in science and engineering passed down to children through the programs offered within this museum.

Leonardo Da Vinci was a revolutionary engineer, artist, and architect. His talents and legacy continue to impress and amaze all the way to modern day. Touring the National Museum of Science and Technology was a real treat; I wish I had time to go back and explore more. The rest of the day included an enjoyable tour of Cattolica University. After the tour we had a break to explore the local area and we took a long walk through the park. Afterwards we had an arranged meet and greet with Italian college students and enjoyed a nice dinner together. Today was another wonderful day in Milan.

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