Culture, Visual Arts

Da Vinci in La Havana

An interactive museum with more than 100 copies of works by the Italian painter, philosopher and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) has brought the Anthropos Foundation to La Havana. The artistic organisation is exhibiting similar works in Canada, the United States, Brazil and Chile.

Ana Laura Arbesú

These are the interactive machines and marvellous inventions extracted from Leonardi Da Vinci’s drawings and projects. The exhibition draws attention to a giant poster hung at the entrance of the White Room Gallery, at the San Francisco de Asis Convent in the historic centre, which has been installed as a permanent exhibition.

The genius of Leonardo Da Vinci has been replicated from the original Complesso Monumentali di S. María del Popolo collection in Rome, following the instructions of the Renaissance artist.

These works are captured in the Codex Atlanticus, an encyclopaedia of 12 books that bring together a large part of his scientific intuitions, drawings and writings.

Brought to Havana by the Anthropos Foundation and the Office of the City Historian, the exhibition offers a panoramic look at his visions on flight, war, civil engineering and architecture, painting, physics, mechanics and hydrostatics, among his many other predictions.

Machines such as the bicycle, the plummet, the portable bridge, the wax hygrometer, the pinhole camera and the motorcar may be appreciated in this show, as well as the perpetual motion device.

These are true copies of his designs, constructed by the same methods indicated in his notes. All are Da Vinci’s dreams: to be able to move, travel, predict what could be achieved from such great inventions.

Flight, for example, was one of his great desires. In his idea for a parachute, Leonardo explained: “if a man is provided with a length of gummed linen cloth with a length of 12 yards on each side and 12 yards high, he can jump from any great height whatsoever without injury.”

He also imagined an ideal city, following organic criteria that included running water and a sewage system.

His visions began to thrive throughout the plague that hit the Italian city of Milan in 1484.

A representative from Anthropos, Sergio Terni, remarked to Prensa Latina that, as a whole, it represents everything from the Universe of Leonardo; “we want children to enjoy it, it is an exhibition for them, the schools, for everyone who is interested in the work of this inventor”.

“Since I saw it in Rome, I was stuck on it. I was in the gallery Agostiniana for two hours, astonished by everything. It was there that I met Modesto Veccia, president of Anthropos.”

“In a number of places across the planet there are exhibitions like this one”, Veccia told him. He was quick to add that there was still one missing: in Havana. That’s how everything started.

Skilled artisans under the supervision of engineers perfected the pieces and conceptualised the show as a dynamic and interactive museum. Its visitors will have the chance to engage with the works and to get to know how they work up close. You can “touch with your hands”, explained Veccia to Prensa Latina.

Various explanatory tables with scientific information on the origin of each one of the pieces will accompany the exhibition, in six languages: English, Spanish, Italian, French, German and Russian.

In order to understand the ideology of this Renaissance genius, Veccia said, audiovisuals will also be projected with informative material about his most famous designs.

Neurosurgeon medic by profession, anthropologist and lover of the sciences, Veccia was captured by the city and its people, setting off to Rome with a number of ideas in her mind that will, to this day, make her go back.

Although she did not want to disclose any of these ideas, we can guess that they will be linked to fauna, another of the Anthropos’ large projects.

The Anthropos Foundation is now making it’s first stop in Havana after having settled in the Italian capital since 2003, since first debuting in Florence in 1998, with the genius of Leonardo Da Vinci and various runs of Italy and Europe to their name (PL).



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