Exhibit Highlights Leonardo's 'Curious Genius'

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An exhibit in Rome sheds new light on Leonardo da Vinci's versatility as architect, engineer and a visionary, many of whose inventions were precursors of today's technological achievements.

The exhibit, "A Curious Genius," consists of items from Leonardo's Codex Atlanticus — the large collection of his notebooks and scientific drawings of mechanics, hydraulic engineering, optics and military architecture. The drawings are accompanied by a dozen newly built models of machines based on his designs.

A wooden bicycle

Among the models based on Leonardo da Vinci's designs is a wooden bicycle with spokes and chains, nearly identical to the version first produced centuries later. Sylvia Poggioli, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Sylvia Poggioli, NPR

Leonardo's drawings and notes — filled with detailed suggestions for projects — are an insight into his thought process. Many of the designs were futuristic ideas that could not be carried out because the necessary technology did not exist in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The exhibit will remain open at the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in Rome until Feb. 28. After making its way through Europe, it will travel to the United States in 2007.

A poster for "A Curious Genius" in Rome.

A poster for "A Curious Genius" in Rome. Sylvia Poggioli, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Sylvia Poggioli, NPR

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