Leonardo Da Vinci Takes Over San Jose Tech Museum

“Leonardo: 500 Years in to the Future” opened its doors Monday, September 27, and will run until Sunday, January 4. Hosted by the Tech Museum, the exhibit offers over 200 new artifacts and an entirely new perspective on the genius of historical figure Leonardo Da Vinci as well as insight into his influences on modern technology.

The Tech Museum is located at 201 South Market Street in San Jose. Tickets are priced at $15 for adults (ages 18-66) and $12 for youth (ages 3-17), seniors (ages 67+) and college students with ID.

Upon entering the exhibit, visitors may be surprised to find that there isn’t anything similar to the design-your-own rollercoaster and feel and earthquake of select magnitude experiences typically offered by the Tech Museum. However, the exhibit refuses to disappoint, as it takes visitors a step beyond Da Vinci’s most famous works with detailed analyses of his manuscripts and delves into the genius behind the true Renaissance man.

Visitors may be awed to discover the complexity behind his works and the “universal dimension” of the man. Having been an artist, engineer, scientist, architect, inventor, anatomist, mathematician, musician and writer, Da Vinci had accomplished so much during his lifetime that exhibitions are normally reluctant to cover the half of it.

This particular exhibit, however, does not ignore any of Da Vinci’s life-time accomplishments and even shows how his master of each field made him more comprehensive and accomplished in others.

One of the most interesting aspects of the exhibit is that it unites art, technology and science, under the accomplishments of a master in all three fields. The exhibit really shows visitors how Da Vinci’s studies of machines influenced his studies in human anatomy, which in turn made him a better painter and thinker.

Highlights of Da Vinci’s manuscripts are rightfully blown up on the exhibition’s walls and are often accompanied by scaled and functioning 3D-models of his sketches. Since Da Vinci had lacked to materials needed to construct everything he recorded, the museum used its tools to bring many of his drawings to life.

Some of the most notable reconstructions displayed in the exhibit include Lorenzo della Volpaia’s planetary clock, Da Vinci’s Flying Machine and the impressive life-size replica of his Sforza monument, which can be found outside the roof’s boundaries.

While the influence of Da Vinci remains the focus of the exhibit, the Tech Museum also presents a separate section to acknowledge the people who played an important role in shaping Da Vinci’s studies. From the architectural breakdown of Brunelleschi’s dome to the manuscripts of Sienese engineers, the exhibit is inclusive to many of Da Vinci’s own influences.

Two paintings by Leonardo’s disciples, “The Virgin and Child with St. Anne” and “Leda and the Swan” are also featured downstairs and require advanced “timed” tickets.

Although not as “techie” and interactive as the rest of the museum, the exhibit does include multimedia presentations and films that further explore the genius of Da Vinci and his Renaissance influences.

The Da Vinci exhibit is perfect for a family outing on weekends.