Leonardo da Vinci's Studies on Water Exhibition at Civic Aquarium

An exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci’s studies of water at the Civic Aquarium of Milan

On the occasion of EXPO Milano 2015, the Civic Aquarium of Milan is presenting the exhibition, “‘Leonardo and Water”. Between science and practice, in Milan until 6 September

MILAN – Until 6 September at the Civic Aquarium of Milan, there will be an exhibition dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci’s studies of water. The exhibition is promoted and presented by the Municipality of Milan - Culture, the Civic Aquarium of Milan and Silvana Editoriale*. It is curated by Claudio Calì and Rita Capurro, with the scientific supervision of Pietro C. Marani, Domenico Piraina, Stefano Zuffi, Claudio Giorgione, Giovanna Mori, Elisabetta Polezzo and Nicoletta Ancona. The event forms part of Expo in the City; the programme of initiatives which shall accompany the cultural life of the city during the six months of the Universal Exhibition.

On the trail of Leonardo

In the exhibition rooms of the Aquarium in Milan, which over time has become increasingly acknowledged as a centre of study and reflection on water in all its various forms, the visitor is accompanied by a narrative to help discover the master’s work, following the common thread of water and highlighting the many facets of Leonardo’s personality which appears, at different times, in the guise of scholar, scientist, or engineer. Specific in-depth study is dedicated to Leonardo’s Milanese period, his studies of water and his boats, and to the influence of his projects on promoting the navigation of rivers in the Milanese region.

The exhibition

The exhibition pivots on three sections: the first and largest is dedicated to Leonardo’s studies in the Lombardy region, from a comparison between the system of waterways which predated his arrival, to the development, not only of the blueprints, but also of the technology implemented in them. The museum tour unfolds with the exhibition of a significant core of historical maps from the “Achille Bertarelli” civic print collection in Milan, which, together with a series of preserved reliefs at the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e Tecnologia [national museum of science and technology] in Milan, derived from drawings by Francesco di Giorgio Martini and Giuliano da Sangallo and executed in the 1950s by the Superintendent of Urbino, illustrate the urban context and technology of the culture in which the master was working. Recorded narration is provided by a video projection, which dynamically shows the evolution of the Milanese waterways up until the years of Leonardo’s arrival.

Leonardo and Milan

The exhibition continues with a narrative on Leonardo’s activities in the Milanese region and the legacy of his work, with a specific focus on the intervention planned to render the Adda navigable, along the stretch of river between Brivio and Trezzo. The narrative embellishes the exhibition of historical models from the museum of science and technology and several copies of pages from the Atlantic Code, from the Ente Raccolta Vinciana [Leonardo da Vinci collection authorities]. In reference to the legendary image of Leonardo, inventor of ships”, there is a delightful painting by Cherubino Cornienti, from the Galleria d’Arte Moderna [gallery of modern art] in Milan. The section ends with a homage to the boats and city of Milan, which meant so much to Leonardo: two very beautiful 16th century historical prints from the Bertarelli Collection and a video animation of photographs from the Arnaldo Chierichetti archives, illustrating the Milanese waterways in the first thirty years of the 20th century.