by Mimi Montgomery
Not many of us ponder things such as the movement of water, the surface of the moon, or why the sky is blue. Then again, none of us are Leonardo da Vinci. Get a glimpse into the ever-curious mind of the Renaissance artist, scientist, and philosopher at the North Carolina Museum of Art, where his 500-year-old notebook, the Codex Leicester, is on view from Oct. 31 to Jan. 17.
The only da Vinci manuscript in North America, the Codex is named after the Earl of Leicester, who purchased it in 1717; it made international headlines in 1994 when it became the most expensive book ever sold when Bill Gates purchased it for just over $30 million. The Codex is now on a limited tour of a few U.S. museums; the NCMA was selected as its East Coast destination.
Made up of 18 pages of paper folded in half, the manuscript features da Vinci’s musings in the form of notes, sketches, and diagrams. All include his famous “mirror writing,” in which da Vinci wrote across the page in Italian from right to left. In those pages, he reflects on topics ranging from astronomy and celestial light to the construction of water and air. “It’s really a peek inside one of the greatest brains in the history of mankind,” says NCMA curator of European art David Steel. “You can actually see the progression of his thoughts.”
And perhaps become inspired to look at the world a little more curiously. “The Codex reminds us that there’s something really powerful and really excellent about spending time just looking and thinking,” says Steel. “It’s a model for students of all ages.”
Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester and the Creative Mind: October 31 – January 17; $18: adults, $15: seniors, Free: members and children under 6; North Carolina Museum of Art, 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org
Public Exhibition Tour of Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester and the Creative Mind
November 6p.m.; 6:30 p.m.; free with exhibition ticket.
Studio Samplers: Everything That Rises Must Converge
Attend a workshop on linear perspective and try your own hand at da Vinci’s and Escher’s techniques. November 10; 1:30 p.m.; tickets online.
Gallery Talks: Perspectives on Paper
Mathematicians, scientists, and art experts discuss their favorite parts of the Codex Leicester and their most-beloved Escher prints. November 14; 1 – 4 p.m.; free with exhibition ticket.
Lecture and Book Signing: “You and the Creative Mind of Leonardo da Vinci”
Author Michael Gelb signs copies of his book, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, and gives a talk on using da Vinci as inspiration to live your most creative life. November 22; 2:30 p.m.; free.