The idea of dedicating a museum to Leonardo in his home town was born in 1919 during the celebrations for the fourth centenary of his death, when the Conti Guidi Castle was donated to the Municipal Administration of Vinci.
After restoration of the building over the period 1939-1942, the Leonardo Museum started its life on 15 April 1953, thanks to the generosity of International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), which donated a whole series of models reconstructed on the basis of Leonardo’s drawings to the town In those days the da Vinci Museum or Leonardo Machines Museum only occupied four rooms in the Castle, sharing the premises with the Library, which moved to its current location in 1983. Since then, the collection of machines and mechanisms has grown constantly thanks to the contributions of scholars, donors and investments by the Vinci administration, becoming one of the most extensive and most original collections, providing critical knowledge of Leonardo in his historical context and in that of late Middle Ages and Renaissance technics.
It was not until 1986 that the Museum definitively adopted the adjective Leonardiano in its name, after major renovation work. In the summer of 2004 the exhibition space was enlarged by incorporating the Conti Guidi Castle and Palazzina Uzielli into one new museum route spread over the two neighbouring buildings in the historic centre of Vinci, The new access route to the museum, which occupies piazza dei Guidi, was redeveloped in 2006 to a plan by the artist Mimmo Paladino, who produced an original and self-standing scenography in keeping with the artistic and scientific persona of Leonardo.
Over the three years from 2008-2010, a further series of major works were carried out in the Conti Guidi Castle, making the exhibitions fully wheelchair-accessible and undertaking another campaign for reorganizing the exhibits. The collection and the display areas were enlarged and modernized thanks to the close cooperation between historians, engineers and digital modelling experts.