Imagining the future - Leonardo da Vinci: In the mind of an Italian genius
Media Day: June 20 | Exhibition: June 21 - Aug. 20, 2023
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, A Level
Note: This special Leonardo da Vinci exhibition is open during regular library hours, seven days a week. Capacity in the exhibit is limited for the protection of the artwork. Join the virtual line at the library entrance, which allows you to explore all of the offerings at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library if you experience a wait. On weekdays, there is little to no wait to visit the exhibition in mornings and evenings. From 11am-1pm weekdays and all day on weekends, expect a wait to enter the exhibition.
See Visitor Information below for more information.
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.
Children's Exhibit: Leonardo's Lab
Exhibit Dates: June 9-Aug. 30, 2023
Location: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 2nd Floor
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.
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 dclibrary.org/calendar, 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 MLKExhibits@dc.gov. We accept requests for group tours Monday-Friday only.
Availability is limited; we will respond to requests within a week.
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.
Nonfiction for Children and Families
Fiction for Children and Families
"Imagining the future" In the News
Axios D.C. | Get a rare glimpse of Leonardo da Vinci drawings at the main D.C. library, Chelsea Cirruzzo
Fox 5 | 12 original Leonardo da Vinci drawings heading to DC Library, Sylvia Mphofe
NBC Washington | Leonardo da Vinci drawings go on display in DC, Derrick Ward
NPR | Leonardo da Vinci drawings make first U.S. appearance at an exhibit in D.C., Morning Edition
PopVille | Leonardo da Vinci Exhibit at MLK Library!! “features 12 original Leonardo da Vinci drawings from his Codex Atlanticus”, Prince of Petworth
Secret DC | 12 Never-Before-Seen Leonardo Da Vinci Pieces Are Coming To D.C. This Month, Ameera Hammouda
Washingtonian | Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, Never Before Seen in the US, Are Coming to DC, Malcolm Ferguson
Washington Times | Da Vinci drawings to make U.S. debut at MLK library, Sean Salai
WTOP News | See scientific side of Leonardo da Vinci in rare exhibit at DC’s MLK Jr. Library, Kate Ryan
-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.
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.