Da Vinci Exhibition- Tasty Tidbits from the Master


Christmas is a sad affair when you are broke and unemployed. But enter the most awesome uncle and aunt who buy you a ticket to the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition held at the Chavonne Battery Museum, V&A Waterfront in sunny Cape Town. Having to wait till the 12th January was absolute torture but as it turns out…absolutely worth it.

I could drone on for days about the 2 levels filled to the brim withDa Vinci inspiration that they had on display but I fear I will scare away some readers so I will give some quick highlights of the best bits! You’re welcome…

Da Vinci the Wing Nut

  • Men have been obsessed with the idea of flight even since Icarus, Daedalus and their ill-fated aerial escape attempt in Crete. Da Vinci, however, was the first to focus on the actual science of flight through wind, air and atmospheric pressure
  • He was pre-occupied with idea that human powered flight would be based on a “flapping” wing. When this was not achieved he moved onto stationary wings where he had greater success with his gliders etc. His man-powered flapping machines were known as “Ornathopters” as they were all based on studying bird/bat wings
  • As an ex-skydiver I was really intrigued by his parachute design. In 2006 Adrian Nicholas recreated and tested the design. He deployed at 9800 feet from a hot air balloon and said that the ride down was smoother than any he had experienced using the current parachute. At 2800ft he had to cut away and deploy his “modern” parachute as he would have been crushed by the giant pyramid structure which made up the design, upon landing

Da Vinci the Grease Monkey

  • Da Vinci was a practical guy. He improved many of the existing ways of doing things in the 1500s as well as created amazing inventions to ensure that his designs would work optimally
  • Some of the ones that stood out for me were:
  •    Anenometer- the first one was created by Leon Alberts on which Da Vinci improved
  •    Wax hygrometer- This was essentially a scale which had wax on one side and cotton wool on the other. He believed that it was really important to know the water content in the air for when it was going to rain etc
  •     Screw threading machine- this was notable as screws were just changing from wood to metal during this time and there was a need to figure out how to thread the rods quickly and efficiently
  •     Flywheel, ball bearings, coil springs, transformation of motion- turning rotary motion via teeth into energy, eccentric cam and the jack (which I would be stuck without on dark dodgy roads when tyres burst in the middle of the night)

Da Vinci the War Revolutionary

  • Da Vinci was a pacifist by nature. Having said this, he realised that he needed good commissions to pay for his true passion which was strippers…OK not really… science
  • In the Venice vs Turkey war he went to the council with his forward thinking plans of changing the battlefield and having an underwater war. This idea was rejected but he was still appointed as Military Engineer and he created movable floating barricades to keep the enemy at bay
  • He put the same tactics into military planning as he did in his theatrical endeavors. He believed that one could overwhelm the enemy using big booms, special effects of light and smoke
  • He created the Ogival Bullet- this was because he realised the ammunition used at the time was not 100% effective and were putting pressure on the weapons. He studied air and water currents and derived that the bullet should be elliptical in shape

Da Vinci the Aqua Man

  • Da Vinci called his submarine “the ship to sink another ship”
  • Although his submarines were never utilised in his time, Italy named their submarine the Leonardo Da Vinci in honour of him after WWII. This machine sank 17 allied ships
  • His Scuba Steve suit was made from cork, pig skin, bamboo and a bell shape device at water surface. This was tested in 2002 by Cozens but with limited success

Da Vinci the Artist

  • Mirror Room- Da Vinci created an 8 sided box covered in wall to wall mirrors. This was for the scientific study of the human form, seeing the dimensions from every angle and getting a better perspective. He added a peep hole which the model didn’t know about. He didn’t want them to know when were being watched, hoping that they would relax and reveal themselves and their natural soul…sounds like a bit of voyeurism to me 🙂
  • Mona Lisa- everyone knows about this beautiful painting and it’s controversy. The piece that interested me was the revolutionary usage of the high definition camera developed and used to reveal the inner layers of the painting. Pascal Cotte used a camera which was 240million pixels and 1500 DPI to take photos without filters of this diminutive painting. This allowed them to discover the secrets hiding beneath the painting
  • An interesting tidbit I learned was that Napolean had this painting in Josephine’s bedroom quarters and his bathroom so there is significant water damage on the painting from this time
  • My favourite bit of the whole show was the pieces around his notebook sketches and the history of the Battle of Angiari. In 1503 he was commissioned to do a fresco of this battle on the wall of the Parliament in Milan. Michaelangelo was commissioned to do the battle of Cassina on the opposite wall. Apparently these 2 artists hated each other and each were using different approaches to try and outdo each other. Apparently a very young 21 year old Raphael popped in and out to learn from these masters. There was a huge storm which resulted in flooding of this giant hall and both paintings were destroyed and could not be restored or completed.

Da Vinci the Thespian

  • Da Vinci was a talented fellow. He was a singer, musician and actor as well as a scientist and artist. He was hired by the Duke of Milan for these purposes and put on plays with the first noted special effects
  • The forerunner to the projector and spot light was based on his projector design and notings. We wouldn’t have movies and modern day powerpoint presentations without this

In conclusion- The exhibition was professionally put together and there was a fantastic assortment of different mediums:

  • Recreations of some of his designs which was amazing to see
  • Interesting texts to read
  • Amazing little mobile audio devices which you could carry around and let the narrator take you through the history audibly
  • Interactive gadgets for you play with in order to aid you in understanding the mechanics of his designs

Take your friends, take your grandparents, take your kids, take your history, science physics and art classes…hell take your dog just get there!

The Details:
Pricing- R140 Adults, R110 Seniors and Students ad R400 family



About Dance Like Derryn

I am a new mom, a 30-something year old female Trying to find my groove and balance in this manic life. I am trying to come to grips with life, parenthood, being a good partner, business, and why doughnuts are so damn delicious! Writing about general ramblings, things that amuse me and corporate musings. dancelikederryn.wordpress.com @DanceLikeDerryn https://za.linkedin.com/in/derrynaskham
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