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Leonardo’s Questions

Why is Leonardo da Vinci important to us?

Leonardo Di Ser Piero da Vinci was born near the village of Vinci, in Tuscany, on 4.15.1452, and died in Cloux, in the Loire Valley of France, on 5.2.1519. His achievements as an artist, engineer and polymath were recognized even in his own lifetime, and in the 500 years since his death he has become a cultural icon and the embodiment of the concept of the broad-minded and forward-thinking Renaissance Man.

Yet, while his art has influenced artists over the generations, a clear-headed assessment must acknowledge that his innovations in engineering did not lead to technological revolutions, and his “inventions”, inspired by his fertile imagination, did not materialize. Moreover, his scientific discoveries, even if they were ahead of their time, were not published for centuries, and contributed little to the advancement of human knowledge.

Here in the Science Museum though, Leonardo is important because of the questions he asked, the curiosity that led to them, and the manner in which he attempted to answer them. In the 7,000 pages of his notebooks that have survived, which probably represent only about a third of those he produced, Leonardo emerges as a person of infinite curiosity. Whether in Vinci or Florence, Milan, Rome or France, in the countryside or the city, in the laboratory or in the studio, Leonardo kept asking questions on every possible subject. Leonardo's questions led him to a comprehensive and in-depth look at the world around him. The breadth of his knowledge enabled Leonardo to create analogies between various phenomena he observed, and his technical skills combined with his patience allowed him to reveal the anatomy of natural and mechanical structures and processes. Leonardo documented his observations and in his notebooks and used his extraordinary draughtmanship to process his thoughts and present his conclusions.

In our Exhibition, here in Jerusalem, we present a selection of the questions Leonardo da Vinci posed, in the fields of nature, mechanics and optics, as well as examples of his ideas in the areas of music and theater. We hope to arouse your curiosity and invite you to take your time to get to know Leonardo's questions to observe them, to sketch them, and to enjoy them.

Date Created: 23/06/19
Date Updated: 15/09/19