The 500-year anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death is a worldwide celebration.
People around the globe have been recaptured by the legacy of polymath Leonardo. In France, a grand staircase was converted to a public installation of his art, we saw artisan chocolatiers replicate his inventions as edible displays for receptions, academics ruthlessly debated the validity of the infamous Salvator Mundi, AI managed to animate the facial expressions of the Mona Lisa and much more. Even here in Salt Lake City we joined in celebrating this global occasion. In May, The Leonardo hosted a gala and fundraiser for the first time as well as a da Vinci Days weekend. It wasn’t just a celebration but a time to reignite the entire museum with new connections to Leonardo as we shared with our visitors and audiences how he has inspired our mission.
On the evening of Leonardo’s death anniversary, the museum hosted a gala and presented The Leonardo Award to an outstanding community member. The gala welcomed long time museum supporters, members of Utah’s Italian community, arts and science enthusiasts from our local engineering industries, and many more. The honorary Italian Consulate Mike Homer hosted the evenings events and Utah’s own Nobel Laureate Mario Chapecchi delivered a keynote about Leonardo da Vinci the man. The gala was also an opportunity for the museum to begin an annual tradition of highlighting the innovators who have shaped our community. The Leonardo Award recognizes those who emulate his genius through interdisciplinary innovation and a true passion for one’s work. It was only fitting that the first of this special award was given to the late Stephen C. Jacobsen for his accomplishments in robotics, medical innovation and engineering. On his behalf, Jacobsen’s family accepted the award and joined us in remembering the influence he had on our local industry. For more about Jacobsen’s work, museum visitors are now welcome to see a display about his legacy in the Innovation Showcase exhibit.
The gala was wrapped up with a call for action to support one of The Leonardo’s most impactful youth programs, Mind Riot. Mind Riot is a 3-day entrepreneurial challenge for high school students filled with innovation challenges, industry mentorship and an opportunity to win scholarships and start-up resources. The museum’s Mind Riot Coordinator and Executive team was pleased to meet their goal via auctions at the gala to sponsor 100 students to attend this year’s Mind Riot Event.
The Leonardo da Vinci Days continued through the weekend with programs and activities for all ages. We partnered with award winning VENETO Ristorante Italiano for an exclusive look at pasta making with chef Marco Stevanoni. He shared his secrets for authentic Italian cuisine, centuries old recipes and more. The Leonardo also activated the museum with additional renaissance and da Vinci history and hands-on activities. Visitors participated in a collaborative Mona Lisa mosaic, created their own stained glass windows, built bridges using Leonardo’s design, experimented with the science of paint and more.
Throughout the month on May, we reflected on Leonardo’s legacy and how it has inspired the museum’s mission. In the words of author Walter Isaacson “Above all, Leonardo’s relentless curiosity and experimentation should remind us of the importance of instilling, in both ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it—to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different.” The Leonardo Museum of Creativity and Innovation thanks all of its visitors for their support and for celebrating this special occasion with us.