More Than The Mona Lisa

Discovery Place Science

‘Da Vinci’s Machines’ Uncovers Lost Inventions and Explores the Engineering Genius of Leonardo da Vinci

From flying machines to mechanical wonders, Da Vinci’s Codices come to life in new interactive exhibition at Discovery Place Science

CHARLOTTE – From flying machines to the world’s first bicycle, Leonardo da Vinci was the self-taught engineer and design genius behind many of world’s groundbreaking mechanical inventions. Opening Saturday, November 4 at Discovery Place Science, Da Vinci’s Machines explores Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions and technological wonders as described in his famous Codices.

Presented by Duke Energy, Da Vinci’s Machines connects Leonardo da Vinci’s studies in mechanics, flight, robotics, nature and anatomy, and demonstrates how his work is more relevant in today’s scientific world compared to 500 years ago when he first conceived his amazing ideas.

Featuring over 75 exhibits, many of which are interactive reconstructed models of his creations, the exhibition includes some of the latest discoveries of lost Leonardo inventions, such as da Vinci’s mechanical drumming robot, along with his most iconic designs and artwork reproductions. All of the featured exhibits were handcrafted by the acclaimed Artisans of Florence in collaboration with The Niccolai Group.

They were created based on da Vinci’s drawings and blueprints from his famed Codices, using only tools and materials that were available during the 15th century. Today, the Da Vinci Codices are treasured manuscripts and are featured in many world-renowned museums and library collections, with some even owned by the Queen of England, the King of Sweden and Bill Gates.

“Our company would not be what it is today without the amazing engineers, like Da Vinci, who constantly dream up innovative ways to harness power for our communities,” said Cari Boyce, president of the Duke Energy Foundation. “We are pleased to help bring Da Vinci’s Machines to Discovery Place Science and inspire the emerging generation of engineers to invent the next great wonder.”

The exhibition organizes Da Vinci’s machines into five interactive areas:

  • Flying Machines: Da Vinci’s dream was to get mankind into the skies. Unfortunately, his dreams of flight could not be shared for fear of ridicule. Despite his ideas remaining a secret during his lifetime, da Vinci designed the world’s first gliders, functional parachute and the Aerial Screw, which is revered as the world’s first helicopter.
  • War Machines: During his Milanese period, Leonardo da Vinci worked for the Warlord, Duke Ludovico Sforza. The duke commissioned Leonardo to design many deadly war machines such as the chariot with spinning scythed blades and the world’s first military tank!
  • Nautical & Hydraulic Machines: Da Vinci’s understanding of the natural world allowed him to create a series of incredible inventions for use in or powered by water such as an automated hydraulic sawmill, skis which could be used to walk on water and the world’s first scuba suit.
  • Civil Engineering Solutions: During his lifetime, Leonardo da Vinci was preparing to publish books showcasing the complete range of engineering mechanisms of his day, but he died before it was ever published. It is said that his Codex Madrid contained enough information to spark the industrial revolution 300 years earlier. Such important civil engineering mechanisms include ball bearings, the differential, gears, pulleys and cams, as well as extraordinary machinery for large scale construction.
  • Robotics: It is astonishing to think that in his own time, Leonardo da Vinci was more famous for his robots and mechanical marvels than the Mona Lisa. Explore recent discoveries about da Vinci’s robotic marvels such as robot knights and spring-powered cars.

While exploring the exhibition, guests will also have the opportunity to meet some famous characters from da Vinci's life through dramatic interpretation. Guests may encounter Leonardo da Vinci himself; his professional rival Michelangelo; the Holy Roman Empress Bianca Sforza, who is also the subject of the disputed da Vinci drawing La Bella PrincipessaPope Leo the 10th who admired da Vinci’s architectural designs; and Alessandro de Medici, the duke of Florence from 1531-1537.  Their interactions will bring the inventor’s story to life, giving guests the opportunity to ask questions and interact with history.

Da Vinci's Machines is part of the Year of the Engineer, and will be on exhibition Saturday, November 4, 2017 – Sunday, May 6, 2018. Entry to the exhibition is free with Museum admission. Admission to Discovery Place Science is $17 for adults (14-59); $13 for children (2-13); $15 for seniors (60+); and free for Discovery Place Science Members and children younger than 2, plus tax. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more. Children age 13 and younger must be accompanied by an adult while in the Museum.  Guests can purchase tickets online at science.discoveryplace.org, via phone at 704.372.6261 x300 or in person. 

About Discovery Place Science

One of the top hands-on science museums in the nation, Discovery Place Science provides ever-changing, entertaining facilities that engage people in the active exploration of science, technology and nature. The Museum brings relevant, contemporary science to life through groundbreaking exhibitions, interactive educational programming and hands-on activities.

Discovery Place Science is located in uptown Charlotte at 301 N. Tryon Street. Convenient parking is available in the Museum’s parking deck – the Carol Grotnes Belk Complex – at the corner of Sixth and Church Streets. For more information about Discovery Place, call 704.372.6261, visit discoveryplace.org or connect with Discovery Place Science on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

About Discovery Place

Discovery Place is a 501c3 nonprofit that provides STEM education to the Carolinas through four distinct museum experiences at Discovery Place Science, Discovery Place Nature and Discovery Place Kids, interactive educational programming, professional development training and community outreach initiatives. Discovery Place is supported, in part, with funding from the Arts & Science Council.

About Duke Energy Foundation

The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to address the needs of the communities where its customers live and work. The foundation provides more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts. The foundation’s education focus spans kindergarten to career, particularly science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), early childhood literacy and workforce development. It also supports the environment and community impact initiatives, including arts and culture.

Duke Energy employees and retirees actively contribute to their communities as volunteers and leaders at a wide variety of nonprofit organizations. Duke Energy is committed to building on its legacy of community service. For more information, visit http://www.duke-energy.com/foundation.

Duke Energy is a Fortune 125 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com

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