Visit the Exhibition
The exhibition "Leonardo's Intellectual Cosmos" is open at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Dietrich Bonhoeffer-Saal, from May 11 to July 17, 2021. Learn more about the exhibition through a variety of multimedia sources including virtual exhibitions, feature articles, and online resources below.
Leonardo's Intellectual Cosmos
Leonardo da Vinci is commonly known as the great inventor of creative machines, the artist of the famous drawing of the Vitruvian Man. But Leonardo was also an avid reader: his personal library contained nearly 200 books on science and technology, literature, and religion. The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG), with the Museo Galileo and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, has now reconstructed the lost book collection for the exhibition "Leonardo's Intellectual Cosmos," where visitors can marvel at many of these outstanding old works.
Since Leonardo's own books have unfortunately been lost over time, the exhibition organizers went on a detective hunt to reconstruct his library. They now present a library that can be located only in Berlin: it consists of contemporary editions of Leonardo's books made available by various Berlin libraries including the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (State Library of Berlin), in particular, as well as the Kunstbibliothek (Library of Art History) and the Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings) der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin and the library of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.
Leonardo's intellectual world is not only displayed through his books, but also brought to life by reproductions of codices, artworks, and objects such as printing cabinets, introducing visitors into the workshop of the artist-scientist-engineer. The exhibition is based on the work of Leonardo expert Carlo Vecce and the exhibition "Leonardo and His Books: The Library of the Universal Genius," shown at the Museo Galileo in Florence in 2019.
The Berlin reconstruction of Leonardo's library and of how it developed over time offers a new perspective on his life and work, showing him as a man of letters and as an intellectual striving to see the connections between microcosm and macrocosm in all aspects of nature. More than 500 years after his death, the exhibition "Leonardo's Intellectual Cosmos" provides a new look at one of the most fascinating figures in cultural history.
Through an innovative virtual exhibition visitors can discover some of the most precious books and illustrations of Leonardo's time and dive into the intellectual world of the artist-scientist. The virtual exhibition "Leonardo's Intellectual Cosmos" offers free access to a wealth of materials from a list of all books owned or consulted by Leonardo, digital reproductions of the books themselves, and further information and multimedia. It also serves as a tool for scholarly investigations and is enriched by the multilingual virtual exhibition "Leonardo's Library" of the Museo Galileo in Florence. Both virtual exhibitions offer visitors to enter the laboratory of Leonardo's mind and trace his continual development as an artist and scientist.
The exhibition is accompanied by a richly-illustrated catalogue including essays by leading Leonardo experts, available in German and in English from Giunti Editore.
Leonardo's Intellectual Cosmos (EN)
Leonardos intellektueller Kosmos (DE)
Exhibition: Leonardo's Intellectual Cosmos
Talk: Frank Fehrenbach, Leonardo's Manuscript Layout
Talk: Hana Gründler, "Leonardo" in Czech Art and Literature after 1945
Images of the Exhibition
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