Apr 152011

In winter 2006/2007, my old hometown Gelsenkirchen in Germany was hosting an exhibit on Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventions. Of course I went to see them, and I was not only immensely impressed by the craftsmanship that the exhibit models have been built with, but also by Leonardo’s sheer genius when inventing the things he did.
For anyone who should have missed it: Leonardo DaVinci wasn’t only an extremely talented painter, his technical inventions were far ahead of his time, as the following sketches of him will show.

Left row names the object, middle row shows the sketch and description that was given on a plate at the exhibit, and the right row shows one or more photos of the model they made. Have fun!

Object Leonardo’s sketch and descriptions Model build for the exhibit from that sketch and descriptions
Perpetuum Mobile  
Machine for lifting very long objects
Ball bearings
Ball bearings
Glider with maneuverable wing extremitiesStudy of a wing in one piece

The wing, on display under the hanging glider in the pictures above, reminds me a bit of the ‘angel’ wings on Danielle’s dress in ‘Ever after’. Compare:
Hang glider
Flying machine
Mirrors room
Archimedes’ screw
Breathing tube
System for walking on water
Vertical drilling machinery
Assault techniques
Vessel with a double hull
Night clock
Fossil’s study
Gear shift
Chain shift
Project for lifting heavy objects

And now about the less pleasant part of the exhibit…

There were two costumes on display in one corner, obviously there to give the visitors an insight about how people dressed in Leonardo’s times.
But… well… when I saw them, I went directly to the exhibit managers and told them that until seeing them, I found the exhibit fantastic; but when seeing them, and assuming that their wooden models are as inaccurate as the costumes on display, the exhibit wouldn’t be worth seeing.

They had the guts to ask me why.

I answered:
“Well, they’re late Elizabethan clothing, around 1600; but not quite.
A man would have never worn a standing ruff collar, the underpinnings on the woman’s gown as well as the lacing in the back are wrong, plus the gown is obviously made from a sari with pink sequins with a black-silver lace overlay; and both were not used, not even in late Elizabethan clothing.
They’re obviously either good carnival costumes or intermediate theatre costumes, but in no way historical and absolutely not from Leonardo’s time, as late Elizabethan is 100-150 years later than when Leonardo lived.
Compare to his paintings (waving to one of the exhibit’s books on his paintings), you tell me where you see a french farthingale or a standing collar?”

They were speechless, then one of them told me “Ah, but it’s not that bad, right? 100 years is nothing..:”

My eyebrows must have had contact with my hairline at that point.

“‘Not that bad’? Well, imagine you would make an exhibit about the year 2000 in fifty years, would you use 1900’s clothing for decoration because ‘100 years are not that bad’ *and* use future, modern plastic materials to make them because that’s ‘not bad’ either?”

They just asked for my phone number after that… 😉

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