More than just Mona Lisa

Day 3: filled with Da Vinci, education, Italian college students, and a castle. And when I say a castle, I actually mean we happened to stumble upon the most breathtaking architecture I’ve ever witnessed (other than the Duomo of course). It’s the kind you envision that exists in reality straight out of Disney movies. But before the castle, we learned about Leonardo Da Vinci- a historical figure that I only ever associated with the Mona Lisa. Before the tour of the museum, I knew very little about DaVinci. In fact, the only thing I was sure of is that he painted Mona Lisa, but who isn’t aware of that? My experience today opened my eyes to Leonardo Da Vinci’s contributions not only as an artist, but as an architect and engineer.


One of the most fascinating aspects that I discovered about him as an architect was his belief that the ideal proportions of the building should be based on the ideal proportions of the man. The tour guide pointed out a wall sized picture of a man with his legs and arms completely stretched out. The man in this picture referred to as Vitruvius represented the ideal proportions in which the length of his arm span should equal his height. This symbolized DaVinci’s philosophy that men represent the center of the spiritual and material world, not God. DaVinci used the picture of Vitruvius to convey his ideals. This integration of his style and beliefs is a unique characteristic that I believe contributes to his long lasting legacy. He continued to establish this characteristic through his designs of cities. The tour guide explained that the design of his cities were based on two levels. The upper level was reserved for the noblemen while the lower level was for all other citizens including the working class and the poor. His approach to designing the cities exemplifies his beliefs that the noble class deserves a higher living standard than the other citizens. I believe that his legacy leaves such a mark in the world because he conveys his philosophy through his approach in architectural design.


Other than his city geared architecture, his inventions and models amazed me. In all honesty, as I mentioned above, I only associated Leonardo Da Vinci with art. Never had I ever imagined that he exerted such an influence on engineering. I truly appreciated the museum for housing such intricate models of Leonardo Da Vinci’s models in order for the public to understand the fundamentals of his design. I particularly found the number of Leonardo Da Vinci’s ideas that we see executed today, but did not exist in the past fascinating. For example, the tour guide mentioned that the first model we saw, the helicopter, was actually never truly associated with Leonardo Da Vinci simply because the actual helicopter was not invented at that time. However, his model clearly showed that he understood and designed the fundamentals of the helicopter that we see today. In addition, he also created the model of the first glider. However, when I hear glider or anything associated with flight, I immediately think of the Wright brothers. This particularly fascinates me because Leonardo Da Vinci was responsible for designing intricate models and projects, however is never credited or associated with these relatively modern inventions.


A few of his inventions that contribute heavily to his legacy that I find fascinating include the crane, automatic shuttle, and his war based ideas. His automatic shuttle is still an essential component of automobiles to this day. In addition, his war based ideas focused on developing boats and canals in order to protect soldiers and effectively attack the enemies. We witness these concepts in the history of every war in order for an efficient victory. Mines incorporate the cranes that he developed in order to transport large material such as boulders. In addition, cranes are an essential component to the construction of building in order to transport heavy material. These inventions emphasize the extent of Leonardo Da Vinci’s legacy. The fact that we could not live our lives without these today allows me to understand the depth of his influence and appreciate his architectural and engineering successes along with his artistic endeavors.


From learning about his architecture to his engineering feats, I could not be more appreciative of Leonardo Da Vinci’s talent, abilities, and influence. I would have never understood that without him, we would not have the technology that allows for efficiency and effectiveness in our daily lives. I hope that one day, the states emphasize and teach the knowledge that I gained from this museum experience. I am looking forward to exploring the works of more architects and artists, especially in Florence, where we will visit in a less than a few days! I cannot wait to keep living new experiences and gaining more knowledge. Until next time- Ciao!

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