Da Vinci – The Genius

Da Vinci – The Genius just opened at the Cincinnati Museum Center, and, admittedly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would my kids enjoy it? Would it be fun for a 5, 3 and almost-2 year old? Would it be kid friendly?

Yes, yes and yes.

Da Vinci – The Genius was interesting, interactive and very educational — for all of us. Before going to this exhibit, I knew Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa… but not much else. Apparently, Da Vinci was not just an artist, but also a musician, sculptor, inventor, engineer and visionary — a true “Renaissance Man.”

As I walked into the exhibit, my breath was taken away by the large scale of some of Da Vinci’s most extraordinary inventions. A helicopter, bicycle and parachute had my kids wide-eyed and full of questions. Julian LOVES inventions — we have a DK Eyewitness Book devoted to them — and he was blown away by Da Vinci’s models. For my other two, walking under giant structures and standing next to machines bigger than they are, was awesome.

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The models were created from Da Vinci’s blueprints, meticulously plotted out in tiny, well-preserved notebooks (he never actually saw most of these inventions come to life). Over 6,000 pages of blueprints exist, many of them coded, which historians, engineers and artists today studied in order to bring Da Vinci’s visions to life.

My kids, naturally, had lots of questions. Luckily, I was able to answer their million questions by reading the detailed info plates and the touch-screen monitors (which my kids LOVED — these kids think every screen is a touch screen, and are already adept at navigating this interactive technology).

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Then we walked into a smaller area, full of kid-friendly, interactive machines. The kids were able to push, pump, pull and crank to their hearts’ delight. It was basically a hands-on science lesson. Harvey was enthralled by the wooden balls, which demonstrated centripetal force (See — I learned something, too!).

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Of course, the Mona Lisa gets a lot of attention. There’s an entire gallery devoted to this enigmatic painting as studied by French artist Pascal Cotte. His research and scientific analysis is presented, along with 40 high-res images exploring every part of the Mona Lisa painting. Admittedly, my kids were losing patience at this point, so I’m definitely going to plan on returning again.

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Da Vinci – The Genius runs daily through October 9 at the Cincinnati Museum Center. This exhibit is something every family should plan on doing this summer. Tickets are $19.50 per adult ($12.50  for adult members) and $12.50 per child ($8.50 for child members).


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