Da Vinci in Havana
By: Ana Laura Arbesú / Photos by Vladimir Molina
An interactive museum with over 100 reproductions of inventions by Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci (1492-1519), was brought to Havana by the Anthropos Foundation, which has sponsored similar exhibitions in Vancouver, Canada, and Las Vegas, USA, as well as in Brazil and Chile.
As an introduction to the interactive machines and other marvelous inventions from Leonardo da Vinci's projects and designs, a giant print hangs at the entrance of the White Hall of the Museum of Sacred Art of the Basilica Menor of the Convent of St. Francis of Assisi, in Old Havana.
“The genius of Leonardo da Vinci” is a replica of the original Complesso Monumentali di S. Maria del Popolo collection in Rome, based on the sketches by da Vinci. These are contained in the Codex Atlanticus, the twelve-volume, bound set of drawings and writings by Leonardo da Vinci that includes most of his scientific inventions.
Brought to Havana by the Italian Foundation and the Havana City Historian's Office, the exhibition offers a comprehensive overview of Leonardo's views on flight, war, civil engineering and architecture, painting, physics, mechanics, and many other topics.
Models of a bicycle, submarine, parachute, portable bridge, mirror chamber, wind-up car and the constant rotational speed mechanism can be seen in this exhibit.
They all are exact reproductions of his designs with the same measurement that are indicated in his notes. They all represent the dreams of Da Vinci —to move, to travel— and a prelude to what would later become great inventions.
“Together, they constitute Da Vinci's entire universe”, said Sergio Terni, Antrhopos representative, in an interview with Cubaplus. “We want children to enjoy it; it's an exhibition for them, for schools, for all the people interested in the work of this great researcher”.
Skilled artisans under the supervision of engineers designed the pieces and conceived the show as a dynamic and interactive museum. The machines are based on the artisans' meticulous and lengthy studies of Leonardo's codices.
Visitors have the chance to interact with the works and learn how they operate. They may be “touched by hand” said Modesto Veccia, president of Anthropos.
Together with the exhibition, several explanatory plaques provide scientific information about the origin of each piece in six languages: English, Spanish, Italian, French, German and Russian.
Documentaries on Da Vinci's most famous designs are also part of the exhibit. “They greatly help to understand the ideas of this Renaissance genius”, said Veccia.
A neurosurgeon by profession, anthropologist and science lover, Veccia fell in love with Havana and its people. He returned to Rome with several ideas in mind that will bring him back to Havana. Although he would not tell us what those ideas were, we can say they are linked to wildlife, another major project by Anthropos.
Since its debut in Florence in 1998, and after several tours of Italy and Europe, the Anthropos Foundation settled in Rome in 2003, and has made its first stop in Havana. “This is the starting point for other joint projects. Right now we are working on the next Da Vinci-themed show, which we will renew every six months or so”, said Veccia.