Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum to Display Leonardo da Vinci's Codex on the Flight of Birds

Posted on August 8, 2013

Da Vinci's Codex Flight Testing Apparatus

Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum will display Leonardo da Vinci's Codex on the Flight of Birds from September 13 through October 22, 2013. The document will be loaned to the museum by the Biblioteca Reale in Turin, Italy, which owns a number of works by da Vinci. Created in 1505, the Codex (a type of personal notebook) shows da Vinci's interest in human flight by exploring bird flight and behavior. It includes his sketches and descriptions of devices. The codex shows his insight into aerodynamic principles related to mechanical flight that predate the invention of the airplane by 400 years.

A model of an ornithopter, an aircraft that flies by flapping its wings, will be on view at the entrance of the exhibition. The work is based on a drawing by da Vinci in one of his manuscripts.

Da Vinci's Codex Mechanical Wing

Peter Jakab, chief curator of the museum, said in a statement, "For Leonardo, art was the foundation of engineering, and engineering was an expression of art. The artist who painted the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper was a Renaissance visionary who saw the modern world before it was realized."

Take a look:

Images: Smithsonian Institution Libraries

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