Mechanical devices invented by Leonardo Da Vinci make a fascinating exhibition at the Christchurch Museum (until 8 February 2016). Models based on Leonardo’s designs have been created by Artisans of Florence, using the materials of Leonardo’s time. His drawings are displayed alongside. There’s a whole room of anatomical models (with a warning it may not be suitable for children), but it’s the mechanical devices that are the most enthralling, a bicycle, robots, bridges . . . Many of the modesl can be carefully manipulated.
You can turn the handle on the gear shift to demonstrate that because each of the toothed wheels has a different diameter they turn at different speeds. This is a principle that is used today in the gear shifts of vehicles.
The idea of the ornithopter is that the man lies stretched out on the platform with his feet in the stirrups, one of which raises the wing while the other lowers it.
While we were there staff were busy rubbing down the cabinets the models are displayed on. Apparently they’d been treated with linseed oil in the afternoon. This hadn’t dried as expected and excess was being rubbed off to ensure visitors didn’t get any on their clothes.
The exhibition also has high quality reproductions of Leonardo’s paintings. The portraits of women are wonderful – I’ll be going back for another look at these. Visitors can even have their photo taken as Mona Lisa.
Don’t forget that Leonardo, like me, was left-handed.
“His marvellous creativity
inspires a show that all should see.”