To mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), the Museo Galileo (Florence) is preparing an exhibition dedicated to a reconstruction of his library. The exhibition is curated by Carlo Vecce, a Leonardo scholar who pioneered research on Leonardo’s books, in collaboration with an international team of scholars.
The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG), together with the Museo Galileo and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, is adapting and developing the exhibition to open at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin in summer 2020. The MPIWG will complement the exhibition with several accompanying scholarly and public activities to explore the value of connectivity in the intellectual world of the Renaissance, to trace the interrelationships of seemingly disparate pursuits in art, philosophy, and science. The focus of the exhibition is Leonardo’s intellectual cosmos; the reconstruction of his library and its development throughout his life will offer scholars but also the general public a new perspective on Leonardo, showing him not merely as either an engineer or artist, but as a man of letters, an intellectual striving to see the connections between microcosms and macrocosms in all aspects of nature as well as of human existence. The exhibition will also be unusual in its format: not only will it present visitors with a collection of some of the most precious books and illustrations of the time, but it will also allow them to enter Leonardo’s intellectual world with the help of an innovative virtual exhibition, an “exhibition without walls” that will serve, at the same time, as a tool for future scholarly investigations.