The ticket office and the first halls are situated in Palazzina Uzielli, which is accessed by crossing the striking Piazza dei Guidi, an urban space reconfigured by the artist Mimmo Paladino and drawing inspiration from Leonardo’s studies. The other sections of the Museum are housed in the evocative halls of the Conti Guidi Castle, the medieval building which has become the symbol of the town of Vinci and which was the original home of the collection.
Palazzina UzielliTicket office and first part of the exhibitionsDescription:
The tour of the Leonardo Museum starts from the building named after Gustavo Uzielli, one of the great late nineteenth-Century scholars of Leonardo da Vinci; the building, which dates from that period, was renovated after becoming property of the Vinci administration and opened to the public in 1997 as the home of the Leonardo Museum.
Finally, as part of the project for expanding the museum area in 2004, Palazzina Uzielli was chosen as the new entry to the Leonardo Museum and currently houses the ticket office, the bookshop and the sections devoted to building-site machinery, textile manufacturing technology and mechanical clocks.
Palazzina Uzielli also houses the areas reserved for temporary exhibitions and a large room for the educational workshops offered by the Museum.
Conti Guidi CastleSecond exhibition building and panoramic viewing pointDescription:
The imposing medieval building, popularly known as the "castello della nave" (ship castle) because of its elongated shape and the tower which might remind one of a sailing ship, has towered over the settlement of Vinci since the XII Century. In 1254 it passed from the dominion of the Guidi Counts under that of Florence, and eventually was privately owned until 1919 when, during the celebrations of the fourth centenary of Leonardo’s death, it was donated to the Borough of Vinci by Count Giulio Masetti Dainelli da Bagnano.
The castle has been home to the Leonardo Museum since 15 April 1953 and currently houses the second part of the exhibition route: on the ground floor are the sections devoted to civil engineering, war machines, flight, mechanisms and tools, Going up to the first floor one comes to the magnificent Sala del Podestà with the large revolving annular platform crane designed by Brunelleschi, after passing which one comes to the sections on studies of optics, to the self-moving cart and the bicycle and finally to the devices for moving through water and for fluvial navigation.
The Leonardo museum route ends in the video room inside the tower, where the models of the solids designed by Leonardo for Luca Pacioli’s De Divina Proportione are also on show. At the end of the tour it is also possible to visit the panoramic viewing terrace at the top of the castle tower, to enjoy a breathtaking view over the hills of Montalbano and the lower Arno valley.
Piazza dei GuidiMonumental entrance to the MuseumDescription:
Inaugurated on 19 March 2006, the evocative Piazza dei Guidi introduces and marks out Palazzina Uzielli, the first part of the Leonardo Museum exhibits.
The redesigning of the urban space is the fruit of a competition inviting ideas launched in 2003 by the Vinci administration in collaboration with the Associazione Arte Continua of S.Gimignano, in the framework of the programme Arte all'Arte Rinascimento Nascimento, (Art to Art, Renaissance Birth) with the objective of creating a contemporary work of art which could entertain a symbolic dialogue both with the museum itself and with Leonardo’s legacy.
The winner of the competition, which saw entries from some of the most famous artists on the contemporary international scene, was the project by Mimmo Paladino.
The artist, in collaboration with the architect Nicola Fiorillo, redesigned the square with a grid of geometric shapes, breaking up planes and then recomposing them with slabs of cardoso stone into which he carved and set inlays of glass and shards of silver, describing geometric and abstract shapes inspired by the polyhedron, symbol of the Renaissance.
This sculpture-architecture recalls Leonardo’s interest in geometry, mathematics and scientific technics and at the same time, the juxtaposition of regular and irregular solids, the use of different inclined planes and the figures designed using the mosaic technique, lead the visitor through an experience of Renaissance symbols mediated by new and modern artistic expression.
At night, a sophisticated lighting system transforms Piazza dei Guidi into a magic stage for the Ad Alta Voce (Out Loud) readings, which since 2006 have inaugurated the summer events season in Vinci, called Vinci d'Estate.