Imagining the Future: Leonardo da Vinci

Don’t sleep on your local library, folks. In addition to them being a place where you can walk in, choose a book, and walk out with it for free. They may have a lot more things going on than you realize… like an exhibit featuring sketches from Leonardo da Vinci!

Last Saturday, my friend and I headed to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library downtown to have a peek at a special exhibit: Imagining the Future.

The DC Public Library is proud to host Imagining the future – Leonardo da Vinci: In the mind of an Italian genius an extraordinary monographic exhibit featuring 12 original Leonardo da Vinci drawings from the Codex Atlanticus. This Codex is the largest collection of original drawings and texts by Leonardo da Vinci in the world, and this marks the first time that such a number will be on display in the United States.

DC Public Library

Here for another few weeks until August 20th, the exhibit is free to the public and I highly recommend giving it a visit if you can, either on the weekend or plan a lunch break during the week and stop by.

But you don’t have to take my word for it, instead take… my word for it!

Seriously, it’s a very cool exhibit and I think most staggering to me was that da Vinci was theorizing and inventing machines that were designed to relieve people of manual labor. Not necessarily replace them, but it was just a very different attitude from the “innovators” and “disruptors” we see today.

Clip from movie The Devil Wears Prada of the character Miranda Priestly saying, "Groundbreaking."
See? Miranda knows…

Seeing where something needs to be improved, and making those improvements for the betterment of everyone, instead of exploiting the need for change and turning it into profits? Groundbreaking, right?

The room displaying da Vinci’s sketches isn’t large, and doesn’t accommodate too many visitors at one time, so much like a restaurant reservation, we gave a phone number and they texted us to let us know they’d reached our place in line. And even so, after we’d gotten in, a library employee popped their head in asking if people would enjoy the exhibit, but not too linger if they could.

  • Exterior of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library showing banners for the da Vinci exhibit.
  • Exterior of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library showing a cube with posters for the da Vinci exhibit.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to an exhibit, museum or library, so it was just great to see the sketches up close and chat about them, and then take some time out after to reflect on them. They’ve also made the Codex Atlanticus–the largest existing collection of original drawings and text by da Vinci–viewable online. So while the DC Library only has 12 sketches, you can view almost 1200 pages online.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m looking forward to getting out and about a little bit more and exploring the city as though it was brand new. And I’m glad we were able to see this before it leaves later this month. It makes me wonder if we’ll ever laud modern thinkers, inventors and actual innovators (not just billionaires) in the same way we think of da Vinci and his “great minds” peers. 🤔

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1 Response

  1. August 24, 2023

    […] I mainly want to renew it so I can also check out other free digital offerings. After visiting the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit a little while back, I have to remember to make use of the library. Whether DC Public or […]

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