Leonardo da Vinci was a scientist—albeit one who could paint really, really well. From sculpture to sketches, science remained at the heart of da Vinci’s work: Deep studies of math, engineering, and anatomy informed his techniques, compositions, and inventions. When trying to work out the geometry and physics of a creation or idea, da Vinci sketched his copious discoveries and insights into notebooks, called codices. His “Codex on the Flight of Birds” is filled with more than 500 drawings and 35,000 words on air travel, from winged creatures to flying machines. His observations were recorded 400 years before the Wright brothers took flight and proved many of da Vinci’s theories true. Due to its delicate nature, this codex rarely travels, so its month-long stay at the Air and Space Museum may be your only chance to see his genius take flight right before your eyes.
The exhibit is on view from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily to Oct. 22 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Independence Avenue and 6th Street SW. Free. (202) 633-2214. airandspace.si.edu.