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Exhibition route

In Vinci, where Leonardo was born and where he drew early inspiration for his studies and paintings, the Leonardo Museum presents one of the most extensive and most original collections devoted to the multiple interests of Leonardo  the technologist,  the architect, the man of science and, more generally, to the History of Renaissance technics.The museum route, spread over two adjacent buildings: the Palazzina Uzielli and the Conti Guidi Castle, presents its machines and models accompanied by specific references to the artist’s sketches and handwritten notes, which are also supplemented by digital animations and interactive applications.

In Palazzina Uzielli, the video installation 'Leonardo's Mechanics' introduces visitors to the main theme of the collection: Leonardo the Technologist and Engineer. The tour continues with sections dedicated to construction site machinery , textile technology, mechanical clocks and anatomical studies. The exhibition ends with the new room 'Leonardo. Anatomy of machines', which is reserved for the machine elements that Leonardo studied with an approach very similar to the one he adopted to understand the functioning of the human body. In the castle, the former residence of the Guidi family, there are machines and models documenting Leonardo's interests in war, architecture, mechanics and flight. Three entire sections are also devoted to hydraulics, with particular reference to the projects Leonardo designed for his homeland, to the landscape drawings the artist made to study nature and its transformations, and to the biographical events linked to his childhood in Vinci. The route ends in the geometric solids room located inside the mighty walls of the castle, and where the models based on the drawings that Leonardo made for the treatise De Divina Proportione by the mathematician Luca Pacioli are on show.

Villa il Ferrale houses the new exhibition section of the Museo Leonardiano and brings together in a single location reproductions of all the paintings and some of the most significant drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. The tour allows visitors to appreciate 21 copies of Leonardo's works, made in very high definition and life-size, thanks to an innovative image acquisition and reproduction technology that makes them identical to the original masterpieces.
  • Leonardo's Mechanics
    Palazzina Uzielli, immersive room
    A true incipit ofthe museum tour, the immersive video 'Leonardo's Mechanics' introduces the main theme of the collection.The digital processing with a sequence of Leonardo's drawings presented according to the themes addressed by the museum, restores Leonardo's continuous and passionate research into motion and the causes that generate it. Every single mechanical element of Leonardo's designs seems to come to life thanks to the addition of sound elements, which translate the individual graphic elements presented into sounds.
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  • Building-site machinery
    Palazzina Uzielli, Building-site machinery section
    In 1420 Filippo Brunelleschi began what was to be one of the major undertakings of the Italian Renaissance: building the cupola for Florence’s Cathedral.

    The hoists and the cranes he designed to raise and precisely position enormous loads, up to heights of almost a hundred metres above the ground, profoundly impressed the young Leonardo and other contemporary artist-engineers such as Mariano di Iacopo, Francesco di Giorgio, Buonaccorso Ghiberti and Giuliano da San Gallo. Theirs is the merit of having passed on, through their work notebooks, a perpetual record of these devices which represented a fundamental leap forward in the technology of building site machinery.

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  • Textile manufacturing technology
    Palazzina Uzielli, Textile manufacturing technology section

    Leonardo dedicated much time and effort to the study of the multi-stage and complex production cycle of textile manufacturing, inventing machines for twisting and doubling thread, for spinning and for weaving. Some of his designs are timely suggestions for improvements directed at the partial or complete automation of the main phases of the manufacturing cycle, whereas others are daring forays towards factory and mass-production systems.

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  • Mechanical clocks
    Palazzina Uzielli, Mechanical clocks section

    Fascinated by all the mechanical elements inside clocks which ensure the transmission of motion, Leonardo showed a particular interest in devices for the measurement of time. He performed what were almost anatomical dissections on them in a continual quest for solutions which could achieve ever-more sophisticated levels of automation.

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  • Leonardo and the Anatomy
    Palazzina Uzielli, section Leonardo and the anatomy
    Leonardo explored in depth the human body, the machine from which he was fascinated and considered far more perfect than those created by man. He wanted to understand the functioning, composition and death-related dynamics. The master approaches anatomy studies to better represent the human body; but the curiosity and the soul of Leonardo's scientist will soon lead him to deepen his studies and his researches from the surface (muscles, nerves, bones) to the study of internal organs.
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  • Anatomy of machines
    Palazzina Uzielli, Anatomy of machines section
    Leonardo’s survey of the elements of machines reveals his extraordinary mechanical and engineering expertise. He turned his attention to mechanisms and gears such as the endless screw, the toothed wheel, the pinion, the pulley, andsprings that, assembled in various ways, can give rise to nearly infiniteseries of more or less complex machines. 
    The system of decomposition of machines into individual mechanisms in order to better analyze them, thus allowing the conceptualization of new projects, is sometimes defined using the expression “anatomy of machines”, owing to the close analogy with the method he adopted for study of the human body. Such was the man from Vinci’s interest in machineelements that he had the intention of dedicating a proper treatise to them, as emerged from Codex Madrid I, in order to deal analytically with their characteristics, their different possibilities of use, and their potentialbenefits
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  • Wagons
    Castle of the Guidi Counts, Anatomy of machines section
    Grande fu la capacità di Leonardo nel proporre soluzioni innovativeanche nell’ideazione di oggetti di uso comune come i carri che alla sua epocaerano il mezzo più diffuso per trasportare le merci e le persone.

    Egli migliorò il loro funzionamento e ne prolungò la vitaoperativa inserendo negli assi delle ruote dei dispositivi antifrizione similiai moderni cuscinetti. Questi, dalla caratteristica forma a rullo o a disco,riducevano inoltre lo sforzo di trazione e ne facilitavano il traino. Leonardoprogettò anche sistemi per rendere autonomo il movimento dei carri utilizzandoingranaggi a lanterna e ruote a dentatura laterale azionati da una manovella.

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  • Machines for trasforming the land
    Castle of the Guidi Counts, Machines for trasforming the land section

    The wish to shape the land has always been a distinguishing feature of human history: erecting river banks, building canals and  altering the profiles of hills are just some of the interventions made  by engineersin every age, albeit with varying degrees of know ledge and different technological resources, to manage water courses, facilitate trade or enable the expansion of towns and cities. In this field of study, Leonardo and other Renaissance engineers looked first of all to machines from the Roman tradition, still widely used on building sites of the age.

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  • War machinery
    Conti Guidi Castle, War machines section
    In 1482, Leonardo left Florence for Milan. It was at the court of Ludovico il Moro that he displayed his lively interest in the techniques and the tools for waging war, concentrating on searching for solutions which could increase the precision of shots and the firepower, as well as the speed of loading firearms.
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  • The bridges
    Conti Guide Castle, The bridges section
    Considering the crucial importance of watercourses, which are ways of communication in time of peace, but obstacles to be overcome in time of war, Leonardo devoted himself assiduously to designing proposals toward regulating them or overcoming them. 
    His bridges can be subdivided into three categories, based on their possible function: those for military use, such as the rapid-construction bridges, those designed for a utopian Ideal City, such as the bridge with overlapping carriageways and the rotating bridge; and finally, those built on commission, including the canal bridge with basins, requested by the City of Florence, toward planning the diverting of the River Arno during the war with Pisa.
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  • Mechanisms and tools
    Conti Guide Castle, Mechanisms and tools section
    Leonardo devoted a large proportion of his reflections to mechanics and the study of the component parts of machines, analysing the principles and criteria by which they worked.
    In his drawings, the individual elements of machines, such as screws, toothed or spur wheels, lantern gears, pulleys and springs, are combined with one another to give life to mechanisms and tools which can perform more or less complex operations.
    The study of movement and transmission of movement, leads Leonardo to conceive pulley systems for raising large loads, mechanisms for transforming motion and eliminate or reduce friction.
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  • Studies on flight
    Conti Guide Castle, Studies on the flight section
    Leonardo, during his first stay in Milan,began dedicating his attention to planning flying machines with flapping wings which would imitate the structure and the propulsive movement  of a bird’s wing. Leonardo devoted himself to the observation of birds, studying their flight techniques and their body structure. But, as man was incapable of producing sufficient energy to move the wings, it would not be possible for him to effect flapping wing or mechanical flight. And so he diverted his attention towards gliding or soaring flight, in which propulsion is totally entrusted to aerial currents. And so he devised the delta-winged craft, and the flying sphere.
    Leonardo also designed some scientific instruments such as the hygrometer and the anemometer, whereas for aerial navigation he used an inclinometer. Leonardo’s studies of flight led him to investigate the analogies between the behaviour of air and water, in other words.
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  • Leonardo in Vinci
    Conti Guide Castle, Leonardo in Vinci section
    Water, a fundamental element in Leonardo’s geological concept as a tool of Nature’s activity, was often a central object of his studies from the earliest years of his stay in Lombardy. The scientist in him applied his knowledge of mechanics to the realization of works aimed at diverting, rectifying and regimenting water courses, as well as exploiting their hydraulic energy for milling or cottage industry. To this end he produced numerous cartographic surveys which, for the ways in which features are represented, are quite unique in the cultural environment of his time.
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  • Leonardo's landscapes
    Castle of the Guidi Counts, Leonardo's landscapes section
    Il paesaggio geologico della Toscana ha plasmato la mente di Leonardo durante la sua giovinezza ed è stato oggetto di acute osservazioni negli anni della sua maturità. A Vinci Leonardo ebbe modo di osservare le stratificazioni geologiche e la presenza dei Nichi: i fossili di conchiglie che ancora oggi affiorano sul territorio. 
    I luoghi della sua terra sono stati più volte fonte di ispirazione come testimonia il celebre disegno Paesaggio 8P datato 5 agosto 1473. Le installazioni multimediali presenti in sala permettono di dare conto delle possibili interpretazioni del disegno leonardiano del paesaggio e di rintracciare luoghi geografici attuali. Nell'opera si colgono gli scenari del Montalbano e della Valdinievole, luoghi certamente conosciuti da Leonardo fin dalla sua infanzia, e allo stesso tempo emergono gli elementi figurativi che ricorrono in altri dipinti e disegni dell'epoca.
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  • Ebbe nome Lionardo
    Castello dei Conti Guidi, sala immersiva
    The first biographical events about Leonardo, from his birth in Vinci to his education in the Florence of Renaissance, and the lasting bond of the artist with his homeland are narrated in an innovative immersive room. Here, starting from the suggestions that come from the archive’s documents, through an installation that masterfully combines sounds, images and words, the events that prove the presence of Leonardo in Vinci are recalled.
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  • Hall of the Podestà
    Castle of the Guidi Counts, Hall of the Podestà
    Having passed under Florentine dominion between 1254 and 1273, beginning in 1372 the Castle of Vinci became the residence of the podestas, officials sent by Florence to administer justice out in the countryside.
    Even today we can admire their aristocratic coats of arms, painted on the walls of this room. On the eastern side, we find the large Renaissance fireplace in pietra serena commissioned by the podesta Neri Ventura in 1478, while the Madonna with Child and Young St. John, produced in glazed terracotta in 1523 by Giovanni della Robbia, stands out on the northern wall. On the western wall is a small opening testifying to the historical passage allowing access, up until the 13th century, to the tower by means of a ladder.
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  • Geometric solids
    Conti Guidi Castle, Geometric solids section

    Despite the fact that he had not received a thorough grounding in the principles of mathematics and geometry, it soon became clear to Leonardo that every rule on which we can gain insight through experimental observation needs a mathematical formula to accompany it.
    He considered the study of geometry the theoretical structure behind scientific research and an indispensable tool for his activities as a painter and an architect.
    The arrival in Milan of the mathematician Luca Pacioli in 1496 marked a major turning-point in Leonardo’s knowledge of mathematics, and he immediately began studying under him. At that time, Pacioli was working on the book De divina proportione, which was to be published in Venice in 1509. Leonardo drew a large number of illustrations of geometric solids for it, both the full versions, seen in perspective, and in the so-called ‘empty’ versions, in which only the linear structure is shown: from the simplest solids, such as the sphere, to very complex polyhedra.
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