Leonardo da Vinci thought hundreds of years ahead of his time.
In 15th and 16th century Italy, he conceptualized and sketched inventions that would later improve lives around the world. A new exhibit at the Whitaker Center For Science and the Arts aims to take visitors into the renaissance man's mind.
Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion features 40 life-sized interactive models of da Vinci's inventions based on his designs.
Vice President of Science and IMAX Programs Steve Bishop said the models mirror those in da Vinci's original manuscripts, built with the materials and tools he specified. Materials included wood, leather, rope, fabric and stone.
For example, he sketched a parachute made from a canvas-like cloth. In his description, he said someone wearing the device could descend from any height without injury.
He dreamed about an armored vehicle that resembles a tank, which wasn't built until the early 20th century. Da Vinci's concept for the vehicle was made from oak, contained multiple cannons and was powered by men.
Bishop said da Vinci designed a bicycle that included a chain drive found on almost all bikes today.
He said many of the 40 inventions featured in the exhibit were never published or circulated. However, some directly impacted people living in da Vinci's era. For example, people who made fabric eventually adopted a machine used to wind thread on a bobbin.
Bishop said da Vinci is so admired today because of the diversity of his genius. He wasn't just an artist, a scientist or an engineer.
"He was all of those things," Bishop said.
The exhibit - which opened May 26 and runs until Sept. 2 - has traveled the country for the last several years. Next, it heads to Appleton, Wis.
Bishop said Machines in Motion is a perfect fit for the Whitaker Center, which strives to bridge art and science.
"We see Leonardo Da Vinci as an example of someone who did that," he said. "He looked at the world in a way that brought the arts and sciences together."
Bishop said he wants visitors to feel inspired by the exhibit.
"I hope they will come away with a greater appreciation for da Vinci and his ability to see into the future," he said.
- Leigh Zaleski, FlipSide staff
If you go
WHAT: Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion
WHEN: Runs until Sept. 2
WHERE: Whitaker Center For Science and the Arts, 222 Market St. in Harrisburg
COST:$18.50 for children, students and seniors; and $21 for adults
DETAILS: Visit whitakercenter.org or call 717-214-2787