By Francesco Carelli
Professor Family Medicine, Milan, Rome

“The World of Leonardo” Exhibition is one of the most important cultural events in Milan for 2013.

In the heart of the town, Piazza della Scala ( Scala Theater Square ), the site of Leonardo’s statue, at the entrance to the “Galleria”, in the prestigious location of the King’s Rooms, we  can discover  Leonardo da Vinci, the  worldwide  known artist and inventor, by many displayed working models of  his machines and by a number of digital restorations of his paintings,  and by more than 200 3D interactive reconstructions,  as never before seen.   In addition to his artistic works, also the Codices  of Leonardo in  virtual format  are displayed  in multimedia stations allowing hands-on interaction.   It is so possible to learn by observing and doing  ( somewhat  like it happens  usually in  general medicine teaching  and learning ): you can  paint the Last Supper, create  a wooden bridge,  make  a device supporting  a man flying and so on.

Visitors can read page by page the Leonardo’s handwritten documents as Atlantic Codex,  Document B,  Codex about Flying, and easily understand them.  They can also interact with  the Clavi-Viola, the Mechanic Lion, the Robot-Car, the Robot-Man,  the tank,  the  multiple  bombard cannon, the Submarine, the Time Machine, the magic cube, using Leonardo’s inventions as never before. 

For the first time in the world  it is possible to see the “Flying Machine of Milan”,  the project for the highest tower in Europe and the one for the biggest equestrian monuments  in the world (  the Sforza Monument,  which  horse was realized  in metal  in the last century by  an American  millionaire and sent to Milan, where is now exposed at the entrance of the hippodrome).

There is also a specific place for youngest visitors: Leonardo’s Laboratory, where children  can learn how to  assembly leonardian machines, print their own certificate as inventors,  and physically make a self-sustaining bridge assembling wooden pieces. The important digital restoration of “The Last Supper”  allows to discover details and colours up to now supposed to be lost for ever.

According to the eclectic and always active Leonardo’s nature, this really eclectic exhibition  is open  all day everyday ( no holidays ) and continues to develop with new added reconstructions of his inventions and new interactive stations, and increasing  numbers  of audio-guides ( now in Italian, English, French, German,  and also Russian and Chinese). 

As above mentioned, the teaching-learning style is a key point, and hundreds and hundreds of groups from schools are visiting and booking for.

In  a recently added section, we can see the Manuscript of Wonders, with more than 150  3dimensional and interactive  models revealing even machines never seen before.  For instance, “The Time Machine” is born  of  this Manuscript, presenting one of Leonardo’s most futuristic and surprising devices.   Folders 33v and 34r, always described as “mechanic drawings”,  hide  the  project for a  “moto perpetuo”  ( endless motion ) machine,  able in theory to give unlimited energy to Leonardo’s “Ideal Town”.  This mechanism  ( a system of programmed boxes that, using energy coming from an inverted mill and mercury as propelling force) could have the same significance as the search for the philosopher’s stone for wizards.    

In Milan, Leonardo the genius was frenetically busy, working  as a painter,  a sculptor,  an engineer,  an architect,  a designer,  and playing many other roles,  but his top project, the dream of all his life, greater than the Sforza Equestrian Monument,  emotionally  more moving  than any painting or artistic work, was human flight.   He studied and worked  on it  in secret,  waiting for the right moment to  show its realization to the public.  The drawings and projects about flying were secret, well hidden: no one had to see them, because Leonardo wanted to keep his primacy.

On Folder 749 of  the  Atlantic Codex we  can see the advanced project for “the secret flying machine from Milan”.  We can imagine Leonardo in his secret room, near the  Duomo ( Cathedral ),  in the evening, at candlelight, after a long day spent in many duties,  after some painting  at Last Supper,  but always thinking at his most important project,  his dream. This was the cause of  Leonardo’s concern,  making him appear so strange to the others, not knowing his mind nor his secret work.

The model of the flying machine, prepared by Leonardo near the place where centuries later Royal Palace was built,  is now reproduced in its original size – 8 meters wings opening –  at the center of the exhibition, and is one of the most recent innovative addition to it.