Zeb the Duck Meets Leonardo da Vinci

We all know Leonardo da Vinci as the painter of Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, but there is so much more.    We went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to see the temporary exhibit about Leonardo da Vinci.

Leonardo da Vinci at Denver Museum of Nature and Science

If this exhibit comes near you, you really should see it.   Many of Leonardo da Vinci’s notes have been found and preserved.

Leonardo’s hand written notes

This bicycle was built from notes found in his papers.   However, he did not draw the sketch.


We now know that the graphite used in the sketch was not discovered until after his death in 1519.   Perhaps this was drawn from memory by one of his students?  Here is an early odometer.


This measures the distance traveled.   The wheel rotates, moves a vertical gear, causing the horizontal wheel to move one notch and releases a pebble into the box.   The distance is calculated by multiplying the number of pebbles by the circumference of the wheel.  Cars and self driving cars were also in Leonardo’s mind.

About car

This may well be the first self driving car.


Many things were made of tin.   So, he invented the Rolling Mill.

Rolling Mill

Used to produce sheets of tin, the concept is still used today without major variations.   Leonardo sought to master the anatomy of the human body.

Drawings of human anatomy

He was the first to discover atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries.   Three and a half centuries later his drawings set the style and form for anatomical drawings in the textbook, Gray’s Anatomy.   While Leonardo loved observing and inventing, he did need money to survive.   So, he designed weapons of war for the wealthy in Milan and Florence.   This is his steam cannon.

Steam Cannon

Steam power was used to project missiles from a cannon.   No gunpowder was required, and the cannon was easily moved over battlefields.   The assault ladder.

Assault ladder

This ladder was portable and could be lengthened or shortened.   The incline was adjustable for different angles.   There is a crank below the wheel.   Perhaps this was the forerunner of the modern machine gun.

Forerunner of modern machine gun

Three sets of ten shells could be used at one time, for a total of thirty shots.   While on the move, a bridge may be needed.


This bridge could quickly be erected from small tree trunks found on the edge of rivers.   Nothing else was needed and the bridge constructed ton made it very strong.   And beyond war, the birds were a subject of interest to Leonardo.

Flying machine

This was his idea for a flying machine.   The wings were movable, similar to wings of a bird.   A few of da Vinci’s paintings (reproductions) were on display.

Lady with an Ermine

Lady with an Ermine was featured, the original in Krakow, Poland.

La Madonna Renois

Also La Madonna Benois, the original at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.    A film was showing about the Last Supper and the restoration process.

Last Supper

As you can see, the painting was over an archway.   This painting was completed in 1498.   Now restored, the painting has survived over 5 centuries.  The painting is in Milan, Italy.   An entire room was dedicated to Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa

We learned much about the restoration, the materials used for paint and colors, but let’s talk about eyelashes and eyebrows.   We have always been told Mona Lisa had none.   Nobody knew why.   But, perhaps she did originally have them.   During restoration evidence was found to show she may have had eyelashes and eyebrows.   So, where did they go?

Eyebrows and eyelashes??

These are the three main theories.   We will leave it to you to decide what you think.   The original Mona Lisa is at the Louvre in Paris, France.   As if that wasn’t enough for Leonardo to accomplish, let’s not forget costume designing.

A designer

These costumes would look great in theaters today.

Designed for the theater

Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452 and died in 1519.   While the world now recognizes his genius, he apparently did not feel very accomplished.   These words are said to be Leonardo da Vinci’s own words.   “I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.”  We really enjoyed this exhibit and hope when it comes to your town, you will visit.


9 thoughts on “Zeb the Duck Meets Leonardo da Vinci

  1. A fascinating person with so many eclectic accomplishments. As it’s his 500th anniversary, we’ve had an exhibition of his drawings in our home city and we took a trip to Milan. As well as seeing “the last supper” which seems to have a 3d effect making the room look bigger, we learnt he designed much of the city’s canal system. He’s been a rich source for my blogs this year!

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