Ever wondered what it's like to be inside the mind of the most prolific inventor in history?

I got the answers to that question last July 24 when I attended the launch of Da Vinci's Workshop at the SM Mall of Asia.

Before I take you to a tour of the workshop, let's get to know Leonardo Da Vinci first.

Leonardo Da Vinci's scientific and mathematical approach to art produced amazing three-dimensional artworks that later became basis for modern science. Because of his boundless curiosity, uncanny powers of observation and innovative thinking, he conceptualized machines that were considered advanced during his time.

A veritable polymath, the expertise and interest of this Italian Renaissance genius spanned a wide range of subject areas. Apart from painting, he was well-versed in the fields of music, architecture, engineering, math, anatomy, cartography, botany and geology. He was likewise an adroit writer, sculptor and inventor.

"Leonardo Da Vinci was brought to popularity again in the modern public's consciousness through Dan Brown's best-selling novel Da Vinci by featuring his famous artworks like the Mona Lisa,

The Last Supper and Madonna on the Rocks. But he is actually much more than the artistic genius behind the prominent paintings in the Louvre Museum," shared Arturo Carballo, Jr., Senior Operations Manager for SM Family Entertainment Center.

"Da Vinci is a prodigy. He was a multi-faceted person. He was extremely skilled and talented in both sciences and the arts."

In short, he's the ultimate Jack-of-all-Trades. Man, he's got lots of free time. Must be the lack of internet.

SM Family Entertainment Center Inc. (FECI), in partnership with Aurea International Exhibits of Argentina, bestows the Philippines a rare opportunity to experience firsthand the incredible works of Leonardo Da Vinci with its first ever Da Vinci's Workshop.

This world-class exhibit features 64 moving and dynamic inventions, as well as notable paintings, of this Italian Renaissance man. It is touted as a fun and exciting way to explore the curious mind of Da Vinci without the stuffiness of traditional classroom learning! Each display features interactive components that visitors can tinker with and peruse up close such Da Vinci's helicopter prototype that makes an actual turn or a tank with real moving wheels.

Here are some that caught my fancy,

Webbed Glove (Guanti Pinnati)
This webbed glove, inspired by swimming animals and made to resemble the feet or web-footed birds, is designed to help the swimmer float or swim for long distances. These gloves are very similar to modern swim fins used by divers.
Pulley (Puleggia Grande)
During his stay in Milan, Leonardo conducted several studies on reducing the effort required to lift heavy weights. During these studies, he devised several different types of driving pulleys, some simple and others extremely complicated. This pulley is designed to explain how even a child can lift heavy weights. By distributing the weight of the object across a rope and a number of driving pulleys, the effort required to lift heavy loads is greatly diminished.
Parachute (Paracadute)
Leonardo's design for a parachute was an idea that was inconceivable at the time. His design called for a sealed fabric stiffly held open by a pyramid of 7-meter-long wooden poles. Leonardo said, if a man is provided a gummed linen of 11 meters long on each side and 11 meters high, he will be able to jump from any great height without being harmed." In 2000, British skydiver Adrian Nicholas used a replica of Leonardo's design made from a heavy canvas and wood to jump from a balloon 3,000 meters high. His jump was considered a success, although he deployed a modern parachute 600 feet from the ground for safety reasons.
Diving Suit (Scafandro)
Although the idea of underwater breathing had already been entertained with various inventions, Leonardo updated the idea with the new techniques and innovative ideas. Unlike previous diving suit concepts, Leonardo's was made of leather and reinforced armor to combat the effects of water pressure. To pull air from the surface, flexible cane hoses with leather joints strengthened by metal coils provided a clear passage for the flow of oxygen. Buoyant cork was used to support the hoses on the surface of water. Leonardo's intent for this invention was fro repairing boat hulls while at sea or in port.
Screw-Cutting Machine (Macchina Per Filettare Le Viti)
As wooden screws began to be replaced by more reliable metal screws, Leonardo's design for a screw cutting machine became an invaluable tool. This machine can cut and carve screws of varying sizes with industrial precision.
Paddleboat (Battello A Pale A Manovella)
Leonardo's paddleboat was designed to be driven through the principle of reciprocal movement by one man. Cranks operated by the driver move paddles designed like fish fins to propel the vessel through the water. Leonardo's paddleboat design was ideal for traveling  along the rivers and seas that connected the large, powerful cities of the time.
Ideal City (Citta Ideale)
After the plague of 1484, architects and engineers were inspired to design cleaner cities with better facilities. Leonardo showed brilliance in this type of town planning. His ideal city was designed with wide streets set at right angles, multi-story buildings, and canals to allow access to the sea.
Bicycle (Bicicletta)
This drawing of a bicycle still cannot be confirmed as Leonardo's or that of one of his students. It was found in the 1960's while Leonardo's Codex Atlanticus was being restored. The style of the drawing is unique and appears to be characteristically Leonardo's yet many believe that this drawing is a hoax, citing that the image was drawn in graphite several years after Leonardo's death.
The Da Vinci's Workshop is incomparable with other Da Vinci fairs because it is more interactive and dynamic. "The concept and caliber of the exhibit is world-class. It is absolutely at par --if not the best among --renowned international expositions," Carballo adds.

Now Filipinos of all ages can experience this first-rate, educational adventure. "It has always been SM FECI's advocacy to bring to Manila quality, top-drawer global edutainment programs that are affordable for the Filipino family. We want this to be enjoyed by as many families and kids. After all, they are the very reason we invest in bringing international travelling exhibits to SM Mall of Asia," explained Carballo.

Children, teens and adults will definitely enjoy this extraordinary journey into the world of Leonardo Da Vinci. This limited engagement will happen from July 2013 up to January 2014 only. Venue is at The Exhibit Hall, 2nd Level South Side Entertainment Hall SM Mall of Asia.


  1. And I'm watching Da Vinci's Demons as I read your post.. Hmmm...Thanks SM for having this exhibit about him :)


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