Kudos to The National Geographic Society. If you are an East-Coaster, or if you find you’re going to be in the Washington DC area before 12th September, be sure to visit the NGS Museum on 17th Street N.W. You’re in for a mighty fine surprise. “Da Vinci – The Genius” is one of the most fascinating exhibitions you’re ever going to see.
[And yes, I recognize that it’s beginning to appear that I spend my business trips going to museums, but one is required to do something between meetings, isn’t one?]
Described as “the most comprehensive travelling exhibition ever assembled on Leonardo da Vinci,” this one is a spectacular undertaking. For one thing, the term “blockbuster exhibition” is generally reserved for the really big museum shows, especially like some of the huge crowd-pleasers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery in Washington, the Grand Palais or the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, or the de Young in San Francisco. But blockbuster is the only descriptor that does justice to this exhibition (despite the fact that it’s packed into a rather small space).
I learned more in two hours that I ever thought I could learn about Leonardo, and the special section on the Mona Lisa, describing the multi-spectrum camera and photography used in capturing the images of the painting in 2004 really is an eye-opener. Accompanied by a very informative short film, there is much, much to learn about this exceptional painting by visiting NGS, including what is purported to be an image of what the colors really were before the painting had aged for 500 years.
Similarly (but not as dramatically), the exhibition of other art works (including a fascinating story about The Last Supper) turns out to be equally gripping. Then there are all the drawings, the codices, the models (miniatures, life-size, and exaggerated), all topped off with a description – and film – of the Vitruvian Man which, again, provided more information than I ever thought I would learn about this remarkable work of art and science (but which I am delighted to have provided to me).
Take yourself to Washington and go to the NGS. It’s worth the trip (and give yourself plenty of time – it’s a big exhibition – so big that I never did find the Sforza horse, which I really wanted to see) and you won’t want to rush through this). The exhibition’s site is here.