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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius, at The Lume, inside the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Has there been a creative intellect greater than Leonardo da Vinci?


I dare say that question could spark animated discussion.


Where would Albert Einstein fare in that debate? Or Isaac Newton?


Regardless, I put it to you that it is impossible not to be awestruck by just what da Vinci tackled and achieved in 67 years (15th April 1452 – 2nd May 1519).

The discoveries, the breakthroughs, the drive of the man fills one with the deepest admiration.


He was an artist, inventor, engineer, scientist, anatomist, sculptor and architect.


His life is laid bare in one of the most astounding, embracing exhibitions you are likely to see: Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius.


For the polymath (which is the term used to describe a person whose knowledge covers many different areas), art and science were inseparable.

On show is a great deal, the centrepiece of which is a four storey high gallery, which charts his life’s course through surround video and dropdown screens.


Above it are evocative representations of 40 machines that da Vinci invented, crafted by Italian artisans.


Among them are the paddle boat, Archimedes’ Screw, an emergency bridge, a lifebuoy, diving and breathing equipment, a pole erecting machine and much more.


Around it are anterooms, the most outstanding of which takes a deep dive into the world’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa.

It outlines secrets about the work and looks at it from five perspectives.


In the same room are breathtaking, life-size reproductions of da Vinci’s Florentine oil paintings in chronological order.


Technology enables each patron to receive a highly accurate read out of their proportions against those of another of da Vinci’s noted works, Vitruvian Man.


Virtual reality is writ large at The Lume, as one can fly freely and obtain a bird’s-eye view of Renaissance Florence, navigating their way through the historic cityscape.

Further, ticketholders can unleash their creativity in an artist studio and create their own da Vinci masterpiece.


Another undoubted highlight is original drawings from the master himself that have made their way to Australia for the first time, specifically for this showcase.


More detail about da Vinci and his genius can be found in a series of well written, readily understandable descriptions on panels alongside the exhibits.


I spent two hours at The Lume and could readily have spent a couple more. There is so much to see and do.

It is an exhilarating, immersive experience, superbly constructed and executed, that I would urge you to participate in.


To top it off, before you leave, the exhibition shop is well worth checking out. In short, it is a collector's paradise.


For tickets to Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius, go to

An adult ticket is $49.90, with a concession or senior $39.90 and children/students (the latter with a valid student card) $29.90.


A family ticket (which covers up to two adults and three children aged between 5 and 12) is $129.90.


The virtual fly over Florence costs an extra $19.90.


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