‘Leonardo da Vinci: The First Start-Up Entrepreneur’

A new exhibit called Leonardo da Vinci: The First Start-Up Entrepreneur just opened in Jerusalem and you can visit until October.

Self-portarait of Leonardo da Vinci, 1510-1515 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Self-portarait of Leonardo da Vinci, 1510-1515
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
He may have died 500 years ago, but you can “meet” Leonardo da Vinci at Jerusalem’s First Station. A new exhibit called Leonardo da Vinci: The First Start-Up Entrepreneur just opened and you can visit until October.
The interactive exhibit is spread out in six different spaces, making it corona-friendly. Kids especially will like the large machines that creator Yaniv Cohen had built using Leonardo’s plans.
The exhibit is at the First Station, where many of the restaurants have only recently reopened after being closed for several months. It is housed in what used to be the Gymboree, at the north end of the complex near the merry-go-round.
It opened last week, and will be in place until October. A guard sits at the entrance taking temperatures and making sure the number of visitors is in line with governmental regulations for corona.
There is a model of a flywheel that “uses the inertia of the rotating weights to create a continuous and consistent movement. It was integrated into various devices that Da Vinci later built. And centuries later, the same principle was used in the crankshaft of an engine where it helped transform piston motion into continuous rotations.
The exhibit is divided into six “complexes” or rooms, which leaves plenty of room for social distancing. It was in Herzliya for two months previously and 41,000 people visited, according to Cohen, the producer and owner of the exhibition.
“We named the exhibition The First Start-Up Entrepreneur because da Vinci never stopped developing ideas in almost every field,” Cohen said. “Even though he didn’t always see how they would come to fruition, for him to think about flight 500 years ago is like us thinking about taking a vacation on Mars. He was a forerunner in so many fields.”
Da Vinci the artist (Credit: Lior Shapira)Da Vinci the artist (Credit: Lior Shapira)
Lior Shapira, the assistant marketing manager of the First Station, says he hopes the exhibit will give a push to the whole area.
“We understood that it was going to be a very challenging summer – a summer that was more like a winter,” he said. “We wanted to do something good for all of the businesses here and for Jerusalem in general.”
Shapira is the one behind the slogan that loosely translates as “Jerusalem: like being abroad in Israel” (Hachi chul she yesh) that is on banners all over the city. He is partnering with hotels and restaurants to put together packages that will bring Israelis to Jerusalem instead of the hundreds of thousands of tourists who usually clog the city’s restaurants and hotels during the summer.
“We are saying to all Israelis: ‘Come to Jerusalem, visit the Kotel, eat in a good restaurant, and come see the exhibit here,’” he said.
THERE ARE different halls relating to different fields that da Vinci was actively involved in.
“Leonardo was an engineer, a mathematician, a scientist, an inventor and a doctor,” Shapira said.
My 16-year-old seemed most interested in the weapons complex,which includes a large model of the first crossbow, as well as the first tank. There is also a model of an attack tower, which enables attacking soldiers to “safely climb the ladder in the rear and then to progress to the top of the wall on the covered bridge,” the information at the exhibit states, ending with a quote from da Vinci himself. “When a city is under siege, I know how to plan multiple bridges, battering rams, adjustable bridges and other offensive tools to help with the conquest.”
There is also a model of an airplane with movable wings. His “flying machines” were gliders with cables attached to the wings that allowed the “pilot” to move the wings up and down.
Da Vinci is, of course, primarily known as an artist, and one of the complexes has large reproductions of his paintings, including the famous Mona Lisa. I remember a trip to Paris years ago, and standing in a large crowd at the Louvre on my tiptoes trying to get a glance at the small painting. Here I could stand and gawk at a much larger reproduction.
The exhibit says that while da Vinci made many paintings, only 20 survived. He also made his own paints that would dry more slowly than conventional paints, which enabled him to change his paintings as he was working on them.
Shapira says the average visit is about a half-hour, unless you are of Russian origin.
“The Russians who come here read all of the information,” he said, so they stay longer.
Shapira says the message of the exhibit is especially important in these times of pandemic.
“Children today are spending too much time on screens,” he said. “We want them to get inspired. We want them to feel that any idea they have, they should run with it, and it could be a genius invention. If Leonardo had taken just one of these ideas and run with it, he would have been a billionaire.”
Leonardo da Vinci: The First Start-Up Entrepreneur
First Station, 4 David Remez Street
Sunday-Thursday: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.,
Friday: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Tickets: Adults NIS 79, children 5 and up NIS 59, under 5 free.
Soldiers, students and pensioners: Half-price
Family ticket for four: NIS 199, For six: NIS 220
Discounts via Rami Levy, Groo, Couponefesh and other sites.