The art world tends to view science centers with derision; they are not museums but “oversized playgrounds.” The Maryland Science Center , however, seems determined to brush off its pre-pubescent image by launching “Da Vinci: Genius,” its second serious exhibition of the year (the first being AntARcTica back in March).
The first room of the exhibit was a gallery of his paintings, a collection of notebooks (“codices”) and a video of the painter’s “golden ratio.” Leading into the next room was a set of scale models based off his codices.
The models continued into the next area (a few of which were interactive), but the focal point of the room was a large collection of anatomical sketches hanging from the partition at the back of the room. There was another video playing on the far side of the room, but no one paid much, if any, attention to it.
The third room was the one mentioned in all of the brochures: “The Secrets of the Mona Lisa.” Included here were: an oversized grayscale image of the famous painting accompanied by an annotated list of said secrets, a collection of “false color” prints showing what the painting may have looked like at various times and a set of close-up images of the painting’s eyes highlighting the famed “missing” eyebrows. If the full-sized 3-D walk around holographic digital reproduction was there, then I surely missed it.
The fourth and fifth rooms featured more paintings, drawings and even several full sized (non-interactive) reproductions of some of Da Vinci’s inventions. There was also a theater at the back of the fifth room showing a biography of the exhibition’s title genius.