An Immersive Leonardo Experience Features the Rare "Codex Atlanticus"

'Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius' Installation View. Image courtesy of THE LUME

Artnet_ Major works by Leonardo da Vinci will be brought to life in a new exhibition at Melbourne’s THE LUME exhibition space. As part of the show “Leonardo da Vinci—500 Years of Genius,” pages from the artist’s priceless Codex Atlanticus will be on display for the first time ever in Australia.

The book is a 12-volume set of drawings and writings made by Leonardo, gathered together in the late 16th century by the sculptor Pompeo Leoni. Pages from the codex come to Melbourne after Bruce Peterson—THE LUME’s founder and owner of Rome’s Museo Leonardo da Vinci—spent a decade building a relationship with Milan’s Biblioteca Ambrosiana, where the pages have been stored since 1637.

Parts of the codex have previously been displayed in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Paris’s Louvre, but have never been shown in Australia before. The precious artifacts are released from Milan for a three-month period, after which time they must be returned to Italy to recover from their exposure to light.

Codex Atlanticus pages. Image courtesy of THE LUME

Peterson said that the pages “represent not just a collection of sketches and writings but a gateway into the brilliance of Leonardo da Vinci’s mind”, and that “their arrival in Australia is profound, allowing visitors to explore Leonardo in a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

Also included in the exhibition are to-scale inventions inspired by the pages of the codices; the only exact 360° replica of Mona Lisa in the world; a V.R. set-up allowing users to fly virtually over the streets of Florence’ and a Renaissance-themed bar called ‘Caffé Medici’. Other activities scheduled to accompany the exhibition are pilates and yoga sessions, sound baths, and an Italian long-table dinner by chef Guy Grossi, on the evening before the show opens to the public, priced at AUD $296 ($193). The venture has been entirely privately funded.

Melbournes’s THE LUME opened on November 1, 2021, inside the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. It is the world’s largest permanent immersive digital art and cultural venue. It offers a 3,000-square-meter multi-sensory gallery, using A.I. and V.R. interactive technologies to project artworks and immerse visitors in their shows. Previous displays include a deep-dive into the works of Monet and the Impressionists, Vincent Van Gogh, and a showcase of more than 110 First Peoples’ art and music in THE LUME’s most recent exhibition “Connection”. The Leonardo show has been created by the immersive arts and culture company Grand Experiences and is presented in collaboration with Webuild, an Italian construction and civil engineering group.

“Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius” is on at THE LUME, Melbourne, from March 16, 2024. More information and ticket availability can be found on THE LUME website.