The Da Vinci Machines & Robotics

Created by the acclaimed Artisans of Florence in collaboration with The Niccolai Group (Firenze), the exhibition consists of over 60 exhibits, reconstructed from the manuscripts (Codices) and drawings of 15th century Renaissance Man Leonardo da Vinci. Exploring and connecting his studies in nature, anatomy, mechanics, flight and robotics, the exhibition demonstrates how Leonardo’s work is more relevant in today’s scientific world compared to 500 years ago when he first conceived his amazing ideas.

This unique exhibition brings together the latest discoveries of lost Leonardo inventions, such as his mechanical drumming robot, with his most iconic inventions and artworks such as the helicopter, bicycle, military tank, scuba suit and the Mona Lisa.

On loan from the ‘Museum of Leonardo Da Vinci – Florence’, this exhibition is presented in the following themes:

  • Theme 1 – INTRODUCTION
    This theme gives an introduction to the exhibition, da Vinci’s formative years and the process of constructing his inventions from his fragmented notes almost 500 years after his death. Rare facsimile Codices showing his sketches and mirror writing are on display here.
  • Theme 2 – WAR MACHINES
    During his Milanese period, Leonardo da Vinci worked for the Warlord, Duke Ludovico Sforza. The duke commissioned Leonardo to design many deadly war machines such as the chariot with spinning scythed blades and the world’s first military tank!
  • Theme 3 – ROBOTICS
    It is astonishing to think that in his own time, Leonardo da Vinci was more famous for his robots and mechanical marvels than the Mona Lisa. In this theme, we showcase the most incredible recent discoveries about da Vinci’s robotic marvels such as robot knights and spring-powered cars.
    Leonardo’s dream was to get mankind into the skies. Sadly his dreams of flight could not be shared for fear of ridicule. Despite his ideas remaining a secret during his lifetime, Leonardo designed the world’s first gliders, functional parachute and helicopter.
    Leonardo’s understanding of the natural world allowed him to create a series of incredible inventions for use in or powered by water such as an automated hydraulic sawmill, skiis which could be used to walk on water and the world’s first scuba suit.
  • Theme 6 – CIVIL MACHINES
    During his lifetime, Leonardo was preparing to publish books showcasing the complete range of engineering mechanisms of his day. Sadly he died before it was ever published – it is said that his Codex Madrid contained enough information to spark the industrial revolution 300 years earlier. Such important civil engineering mechanisms include ball bearings, the differential,  gears, pulleys and cams as well as incredible machinery for large scale construction.
  • Theme 7 – ART GALLERY
    Each exhibition comes with a complement of high quality framed reproductions of da Vinci’s most iconic and famous works, such as the Mona Lisa, Last Supper, The Annunciation and many more. This theme can be dispersed throughout the collection or in a dedicated gallery section.

    “The exhibit truly transcends the sciences, technologies, mathematics, engineering and the arts…as well as (Leonardo’s) early influences on medical awareness of the human body. He was the Ultimate Innovator and we’re a better world for it. Don’t miss this exhibit anywhere it goes!”

    James G. Kidrick, President & Chief Executive Officer
    San Diego Air & Space Museum

    For the first time, we are making some of our most popular touring exhibition activities and worksheets available on the Activities page of our website


    Dare to Imagine: Da Vinci’s Machines was hosted by the Discovery Science & Technology Centre Bendigo, February to June 2022.
    TV commercial created by Vidcomedia Group. Courtesy of Discovery Centre Bendigo and the City of Greater Bendigo.

    Watch a recent interview with Cameron Wood, the curator of the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Michigan, on Fox 2 Detroit.

    Take a fascinating look behind the scenes with a comprehensive news story that was broadcast on Detroit’s Local 4 WDIV and a timelapse by Michael Narlock.