Discovering Da Vinci


The automobile, helicopter, diving suit and pulley. Did you know that these are things that Leonardo Da Vinci—one way or the other—invented?

Yes, the legendary painter behind the famed “Mona Lisa” contributed a lot more to humankind besides the arts. In fact, he is one of the most prolific inventors in history. A true genius, the machines he conceptualized were too advanced during his time in the Renaissance.

Intrigued? Then head on over to SM Mall of Asia’s Exhibit Hall where Filipinos can come to discover Da Vinci, the inventor through the showcase of Da Vinci’s Workshop. A traveling exhibit from Argentina, the Philippines is the very first Asian stop of the highly interesting display, which opened on July 24, and will run until January 2014.

“I don’t think many people are aware that Da Vinci invented a lot of things we use and see in our daily lives. I wasn’t myself until I began this exhibit in Argentina,” Ezequiel Peña of Aurea International Exhibits related to The Manila Times.

“He was an architect; he designed an ideal city because there were many pests in those days. He invented the first robot because he wanted to automatize humans. He is the father of anatomy and discovered that the eyes capture the light to see. He was an engineer because he drew the basic models of cars, ships, airplanes and helicopters. When was this? In the 1400s,” he detailed. “I think humanity, without this greatest mind that ever existed, would still be in Stone Age.”

Da Vinci’s Workshop is therefore, Peña’s grand way of paying homage to Da Vinci and his contributions to the world, by bringing his inventions from paper to life.

Peña recalled to The Manila Times, however, that after conceptualizing the exhibit, he soon realized his daunting task of building Da Vinci’s drawings into actual machines. He needed experts.

“I hired researchers with PhDs in history and the arts who first decided which inventions we should do; also Italian artisans who interpreted the antiquated Florentine dialect. They were the ones who deciphered his codes because Da Vinci wrote from right to left and used a mirror to read his manuscripts. There was no copyright in those days so he did that to protect his inventions.”

Finally, after much research and development, Aurea International Exhibits was able to mount the first Da Vinci’s Workshop in Argentina back in the late 1990s. The result was a one-of-a-kind fair featuring interactive wooden inventions that children and adults alike could tinker with.

Da Vinci’s Workshop is now four times bigger than when it started. It currently houses 64 moving and dynamic inventions, and is further segmented into Da Vinci’s various fields of interest, including music, math, anatomy, cartography, botany, geology, engineering, and of course the arts.

Some of the notable pieces on view are war machines, weather devices and industrial equipment, as well as the basic models of the helicopter, airplane and automobile. One section of the exhibit is also dedicated to printed replicas of his paintings including the “Mona Lisa,” “The Last Supper,” and “Virgin of the Rocks,” among others.

Truly a world-class, educational fair, Da Vinci’s Workshop has also toured Latin America, USA, Europe, and finally Asia with its Philippine debut.

“The Philippines is the first country in Asia that we are touring. I am already talking with other countries like Singapore where we will continue the exhibit, but before that, I want to tour the Philippines first so that people in other provinces can also see Da Vinci’s Workshop.”

After the Manila leg in January, Peña is scheduled to bring the exhibit to Cebu and Davao.

“Unless, people can travel to Europe, they will never get to see something like this. It’s an opportunity for all Filipinos to see and learn about the life of the greatest mind that ever existed,” Peña ended.


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