The next traveling exhibit at Union Station will spotlight the quintessential Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci, officials announced Tuesday.
The hands-on exhibit opens Oct. 23 and will feature more than 65 full-scale models of machines and other devices from the master’s drawings and papers. It will also include more than 20 fine art studies and will examine Leonardo’s exploration of human anatomy.
“Da Vinci was a poet, he was a scientist, he was a philosopher, he was an engineer, he was an anatomist,” said Tom Zaller, president of Imagine Exhibitions Inc., which produced the exhibit. “He was an organizer of thoughts.”
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Union Station officials say the exhibit fits perfectly with its focus on science, technology, engineering, art and math education, or STEAM.
Leonardo’s designs anticipated by hundreds of years such things as the tank, the helicopter, an underwater breathing apparatus and a submarine.
Leonardo took incredibly detailed notes. Because his work was often commissioned by powerful political or military figures, Leonardo protected his ideas by writing from right to left — backward — and in his own shorthand.
Aurea Exhibitions, partnering with Imagine, used modern translations of those notes to create models of many of the machines Leonardo invented.
“The inventions he drew on the page we bring to life in wood,” Zaller said. “You can interact with some of these elements. The tank, you can get inside. You can spin the flywheel. The camshaft, you can turn the crank.”
The exhibit will include actual-size replicas of Leonardo’s art, from the surprisingly small “Vitruvian Man” (depicting a man with arms and legs outsretched) to the surprisingly huge “The Last Supper” with the relatively small “Mona Lisa” in between.
The exhibit also will explore Leonardo’s insights into optics, aquatics, military engineering, civil engineering and flight.
“There are lots of different angles to the man and thus to the exhibit as well,” said Michael Tritt, a spokesman for Union Station. “The audience is going to go, ‘Oh my gosh, I didn’t know he did that.’ It’s one of those stories that just keeps giving and giving.”
“Da Vinci: The Exhibition” is now on display at Air Zoo, an aviation and science center in Portage, Mich. It will fill the Bank of America Gallery at Union Station and will run here through May 1, encompassing both the holidays and spring break. Union Station’s current “Gridiron Glory” exhibit about professional football closes Sept. 7.