Exhibition Overview

Engineer, inventor, scientist, artist: Leonardo da Vinci embodies the ideal of an innovative mind who uses his vast intellect, powers of observation, and boundless curiosity to explore the world around him. This rare exhibition presents one of Leonardo’s original notebooks, a vital tool in his creative process, and examines how his renaissance thinking is shared by some of today’s most visionary artists, engineers, and designers.

To show how sketching helps ideas emerge, often in dynamic, non-linear ways, this presentation of the Codex Leicester is paired with contemporary works by artists and designers. These exercises in “thinking on paper” include:

Bill Viola’s dynamic 2004 video and sound installation, The Raft, along with one of his planning notebooks;

Margaret and Christine Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring’s Crochet Coral Reef, the world’s largest participatory art and science project. Hear Margaret interviewed by Krista Tippett for her radio program “On Being” (MIA, 2015) on this podcast: The Grandeur and Limits of Science;

Drawings and prototypes by Scott Olson, an inventor who refined the inline skate concept and successfully marketed it as Rollerblades;

Exploratory sketches for safety cars with swiveling cockpits and child car seats, c. 1959–1973, by St. Paul–based industrial design firm Don E. Harley & Associates.

See what people are saying:
Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Codex Leicester’ at Minneapolis Institute of Art
By Mary Abbe, Star Tribune

New Mpls. Institute of Arts exhibit puts you inside da Vinci’s head
By Marianne Combs, MPR

MIA’s Leonardo-Mothersbaugh pairing: ambitious, borderline loony — and it works
By Pamela Espeland, MInnPost

‘Thinking on paper’: da Vinci notebook on exhibit at MIA reveals the artist’s creative process
By Melanie Sommer, Bring Me The News

5 Art Exhibits to See This Summer
By Ellen Gamerman, The Wall Street Journal

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Leicester Codex Show Us How A Genius Thinks
By Colton Valentine, The Huffington Post

Minneapolis Wants You to Think Like Leonardo #DaVinciWisdom
By Stephanie Storey, Oil and Marble

Inside Leonardo da Vinci’s 500-year-old notebook
By Lindsey LaBelle, My Fox Twin Cities

The Codex Leicester is on loan from Bill Gates.