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Imagining the future - Leonardo da Vinci: In the mind of an Italian genius

Imagining the future. Leonardo da Vinci, in the mind of the genius.

Exhibit Dates

Media Day: June 20 | Exhibition: June 21 - Aug. 20, 2023


Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, A Level 

The DC Public Library is proud to host Imagining the future - Leonardo da Vinci: In the mind of an Italian genius an extraordinary monographic exhibit featuring 12 original Leonardo da Vinci drawings from the Codex Atlanticus. This Codex is the largest collection of original drawings and texts by Leonardo da Vinci in the world, and this marks the first time that such a number will be on display in the United States.

The exhibit is presented by Confindustria, the largest association representing manufacturing and service companies in Italy; in partnership with Biblioteca Ambrosiana, a true Italian treasure trove comprising a public library, an art gallery, and an academy; and under the patronage of the Embassy of Italy in Washington D.C. and the Italian Cultural Institute of Washington D.C. Supported by contributions from some of the most esteemed Italian companies, the exhibition represents an initiative of the highest artistic and symbolic value: an unconventional way to promote entrepreneurial spirit as a way of encouraging economic, social, and civic development.

Visitors will be able to gain insight into the varied interests of one of history’s greatest artists and thinkers, discovering the origins of technologies we often take for granted, and marveling at the remarkable mind that anticipated them centuries ago. Visitors will uncover how Leonardo’s philosophy, based on observation and experimentation, still embodies an Italian entrepreneurial approach.

The Imagining the future - Leonardo da Vinci: In the mind of an Italian genius exhibition is open to art, history and innovation enthusiasts and those interested in the interplay of art and science. 

About the Codex Atlanticus

The Codex Atlanticus is a collection of more than 1,200 pages across 12 volumes, containing Leonardo’s notes, drawings, and diagrams from 1478 to 1519. The codex covers a range of subjects, including flight, weaponry, mathematics and botany, and its content has found applications in fields such as engineering and design.

Discover more about Leonardo, the Codex Atlanticus and the Imagining the future project on the dedicated website

Atlantico Documentary

Monsignor Alberto Rocca, Doctor of the Ambrosiana Library, the world's leading expert on the subject, and Carlo Bonomi, President of Confindustria, who promoted and made the exhibition possible, leads us through  Leonardo Da Vinci's great cultural "undertaking”, with the aim of spreading the entrepreneurial spirit as an engine of economic, social and civil growth in every country. The film offers an opportunity to reflect on our contemporary society, on the value of cultural exchanges, education and the relationship between art, science and economy.

Children's Exhibit: Leonardo's Lab

Exhibit Dates: June 9-Aug. 30, 2023

Location: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 2nd Floor

A child manipulates gears in the children's exhibit Leonardo's Lab

A fun hands-on exhibit that allows children to explore some of Leonardo’s designs and ideas through building, sketching and testing activities.

Explore the inventions, art, and ideas of the original Renaissance man, as you engage in a dozen hands-on activities. Create a ‘copter, solve math puzzles, try your hand at backward writing, make your own Mona Lisa masterpiece, and engineer towers, bridges, and simple machines. Multi-user ‘workshop tables’ allow individuals or groups to learn about Leonardo da Vinci’s many areas of interest in science and art.

This exhibit was developed by the Carnegie Science Center and brought to DC Public Library by the DC Public Library Foundation. 

Visitor Information

Imagining the future is open during regular library hours, but capacity is limited.

Please arrive earlier in the day to secure your place in the virtual line.

  • On weekdays, there is little to no wait to visit the exhibition in mornings and evenings. From 11am-1pm, expect wait times of 30 minutes or more.

  • On weekends, visitors may experience wait times of an hour or more. Due to demand, the line may fill-up and close before 5:00 p.m., so please arrive earlier in the day if you plan to visit.

How it works:

  • A team member will take your name, party size, and mobile phone number.
  • You will get a text message confirming your place in the virtual line.
  • No need to wait in line; feel free to explore the Library until it is your turn.
  • A few minutes before it's your turn to enter, you will receive a call-back text message to come to the exhibit entrance on the A Level, downstairs from the Library entrance. 
  • Please note: Visitors cannot join the line from outside the MLK Library.

No phone, no problem.   

Our team can help you register in the system without a phone and will provide further instructions based on the wait times when you arrive.

Waiting to visit the exhibition? 

Explore more on Leonardo da Vinci in the MLK Library, including the children’s exhibition Leonardo’s Lab, books on Leonardo and numerous online resources linked below.  

Download a flyer with recommendations for exploring the MLK Library.  

Tours and More

Group Tours are available Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and Thursdays, 5:00 and 6:00 p.m.

  • Includes admission to exhibition. Tours are free, but space is limited.
  • To reserve online, visit, filter by Location (MLK Library) and choose a Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday through August 16. Click on "Tour: Leonardo da Vinci Exhibition" and register for the tour.
  • Can't make one of the guided tours? Please email your request to We accept requests for group tours Monday-Friday only.

    Availability is limited; we will respond to requests within a week.


See Upcoming Tours


Leonardo Chat in the Great Hall 

Join us for informative discussions with a volunteer guide in the Great Hall on Saturdays.

  • Leonardo Chats take place on the hour, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., and last about 30 minutes.
  • No registration required; does not include admission to the exhibition.



Adult Fiction

Nonfiction for Children and Families

Fiction for Children and Families

Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus to be Displayed in the U.S.

-The DC Public Library is proud to announce that the exhibit "Imagining the Future - Leonardo da Vinci: In the Mind of an Italian Genius" featuring 12 original Leonardo da Vinci drawings from the Codex Atlanticus, will be on display at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Presented by Confindustria, in partnership with Biblioteca Ambrosiana , the exhibit marks the first time the Codex Atlanticus has been displayed in the United States.

Press Release

Public Art & Exhibits

The DC Public Library celebrates art and exhibits as a source of learning, discovery, growth, and connection. The Art and Exhibits Program at DC Public Library is a portal to the library’s resources and a laboratory for engagement with Washington, D.C.’s past, present and future.

Large scale mobile of various round shapes and colors hanging from a purple ceiling