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Genius of Leonardo da Vinci on display

Among his designs, Leonardo da Vinci created the first known flight apparatuses. (Courtesy of Grande Exhibitions)

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Leonardo da Vinci was a genius, a virtuoso and a visionary.

His studies, inventions and works of art created during his life from 1452 to 1519 make him the consummate Renaissance man.

He drew early concepts for the car, bicycle, helicopter, glider, parachute and much more, but his legacy is best seen today in such works as the “Mona Lisa,” “The Vitruvian Man” and “The Last Supper.”

Beginning Feb. 10, New Mexicans will be able to get an up-close view of life-size, interactive representations of his designs when “Da Vinci – The Genius” opens for a five-month exhibition at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science. It will run through July 29, 2018.

“This exhibit is going to be bigger than the Titanic exhibit we had a few years ago,” said museum Director Margie Marino. “It’s going to be something that I think all museum visitors will enjoy.”

The exhibit was created by Grande Exhibitions of Australia, in collaboration with the Museo Leonardo da Vinci in Rome, as well as French scientific engineer Pascal Cotte, and a number of experts in Italy and France.

Leonardo da Vinci, Italian High Renaissance master, in an undated portrait drawing. Da Vinci was born in Florence, Italy in 1452 and died in 1519. (Associated Press)

The 15,000-square-foot exhibition comprises two parts.

“The Secrets of Mona Lisa” describes how forensic studies of this famous painting uncovered over 25 secrets hidden beneath varnish, and how recent studies produced exciting and unprecedented revelations about her true identity.

“The Inventions” features 75 large-scale models of da Vinci’s machine concepts, many of them interactive, brought to life for the first time by modern-day artisans.

“Leonardo da Vinci was ahead of his time,” Marino said. “It’s amazing to see what he had ideas for centuries before they became part of the world.”

According to Grande Exhibitions, a recent addition to the show is the high definition re-creation of “The Last Supper” in actual size – 29 feet by 14½ feet – an impressive display that complements high-definition video animations explaining the “Sforza Horse” and “The Vitruvian Man.”

There are more than 200 pieces in the exhibit. Of those, 75 are large-scale and many are interactive.

“This is the most comprehensive traveling exhibition on Leonardo da Vinci ever assembled,” Grande Exhibitions said in a press release.

Marino said the exhibit will be located on the top floor of the museum, as well as part of the bottom floor.

Because the exhibition is so large, the museum will close for a few weeks in January for installation.

At the May 19 Natural History Museum board of directors meeting, the admission price was set for this special show. There will be a $20-$22 up-charge per adult for the exhibit, though admission prices for members and seniors will be reduced.

“The museum’s priority is to keep children’s school tour admissions as low as possible so that every young student in New Mexico will have an opportunity to experience this amazing exhibition,” Marino said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s fun, interactive, immersive and exciting.”

Leonardo da Vinci created some of the first designs for the bicycle, car and others. Full-scale models of some of his prototypes are featured in the traveling exhibit “Da Vinci – The Genius,” which is coming to Albuquerque. (Courtesy of Grande Exhibitions)

Grande Exhibitions video: Da Vinci Alive