PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Leonardo da Vinci had far more artistic ideas than he could ever create. He kept sketchbooks and journals of scientific observations and ideas. Now at The Franklin Institute, his sketchbooks come to life thanks to the work of a team of Italian artists and engineers.
These are the da Vincis you’ve never seen, because until now many of these only existed in Leonardo’s imagination.
“Most of Leonardo’s inventions were actually never built,” said Troy Collins, a senior vice president for The Franklin Institute. “But they were documented into books called his codices.”
As you can see in touchscreens, da Vinci’s codices (pronounced CODE-uh-sees) are not complete blueprints. They’re more like journals he kept himself. But experts like Mario Taddei painstakingly analyzed them to uncover da Vinci’s inventions.
“In this exhibition you will discover the mind of Leonardo,” Taddei said.
Like the Great Kite, a flying machine built in materials of da Vinci’s time, wood and leather. Touch-screen technology lets you not only see what da Vinci wrote, but translate what he said.
da Vinci created a mechanical lion that would move on its own — fancy stuff for the 15th century. He envisioned an “aerial screw” that would unwind fast enough to lift off the ground. There’s a self-propelled cart and a robot soldier. Some people call da Vinci the George Lucas of his time.
“All these pages you will see here, Leonardo never published it,” Taddei said. “They are, they are his personal paper, his personal pages. No one had the possibility to look at this.”
What would a da Vinci exhibit be without his most famous paintings? Touch screens let you see a digitally refreshed Mona Lisa, showing the brighter colors da Vinci probably used, and the hidden pieces of The Last Supper even experts missed.
To Mario, these paintings simply were da Vinci’s day job. “But the real Leonardo insight is inside his books,” Taddei said, “hundreds of machines and things to understand and explore.”
For more information on Leonardo da Vinci’s Workshop at The Franklin Institute, click here.
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Reported by Chris May, CBS 3