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Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci

The Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci is located in Vinci, Leonardo da Vinci's birthplace, in the province of Florence, Italy.



The museum was inaugurated on October 2, 1993, under the patronage of the Regione Toscana, Provincia di Firenze, APT and the Municipality of Vinci, with support from the Armand Hammer Center for Leonardo Studies (University of California at Los Angeles) and the Ente Raccolta Vinciana of Milan.

Its Director is Alessandro Vezzosi. The President of the International Association is Agnese Sabato. Carlo Pedretti was the Honorary President until his death on January 5, 2018.

The museum was founded by scholars and artists as the first museum dedicated to the complexity of Leonardo Da Vinci's genius as an artist, scientist, inventor, and designer, in relation to his life, territories, and modernity. It has been realizing in practice the theories of the Imaginary Museum. It developed the contents of exhibitions such as "Leonardo. Art, science and utopia", held in Toronto in 1987, "Leonardo disappeared and found", in Florence, 1988, "Leonardo. News and myth", in Rome, 1989, and in Budapest, in 1991. It also created the first CD-Rom dedicated to da Vinci, "Leonardo. The digital painting" (ACTA, 1989).


The Museo Ideale Leonardo Da Vinci, in its role as a site of research, philological enquiry and creativity, pursues, among others, three major objectives:

  • dissemination of knowledge about the true Leonardo, beyond the stereotypes, rhetoric, and legend;
  • investigation and presentation of the "lost" Leonardo and reporting the results of new studies and interpretations, also concerning his school (from the Achademia Leonardi Vinci to Leonardo's followers);
  • a new reading of his work that takes into account both the Renaissance context and contemporary culture.


The museum is located in the Gallery that - with the Ancient Cellar of the Castle - housed a forerunner "Wine Museum" in the 19th century. This is recorded by Giuseppe Garibaldi's memories dated July- August 1868, where it is called "Museum Masetti" because it was part of the ownership of the counts Masetti da Bagnano, together with the castle of the Counts Guidi (later donated to the town of Vinci) and the land called Grappa ( owned by Leonardo's father in the past, and now location of the "Garden of Leonardo"). Just opposite the Museum entrance there was the City Mill (with its millpond) that from 1478 was run by Leonardo's father Ser Piero and his uncle Francesco. Leonardo himself was present at the deed: he should have restored the mill and he would have been the beneficial owner.

The part of the building dating from nineteenth century was built on the foundations of the millpond owned by the city and by the Da Vinci family.

The exhibition areas are temporarily closed due to rainwater infiltration from the overlying building, and are awaiting re-opening, planned for 2019.


Started in 1972 as a collection in progress of different, ancient and modern items, relating to Leonardo, the ethno-anthropological territory of Vinci and contemporary art that engages with Leonardo, it was designed to addemble sets of artworks, artifacts and documentary materials.

The collection includes original antique paintings from the school of Leonardo, tools and instruments of his time and of his native land, rare engravings (including "Knots" dating 1506-8 by Dürer after Leonardo's drawing); models based on his projects; memorabilia concerning Leonardo, two works autographed by Duchamp and thousands of artifacts and works-in-progress) and the "Dome of Arts and Ideas" by Buckminster Fuller inspired by Leonardo.


The Leonardeschi

The Museo Ideale traces is origins to 1993, referring to the 1993 exhibition "Leonardo and the Leonardism in Naples and Rome" in the Capodimonte Museum and Palazzo Barberini, with research and cataloging of the works by Leonardo's collaborators, students and followers, highlighting the characters of his studio and the extension of his school in various Italian regions and European countries.

The aim is to make known and compare a growing number of works and Leonardeschi artists and to support this work with scientific examination and iconographic repertoires, to verify attributions and new hypotheses.

The Leonardism

It aims to collect all the quotes, derivations, the uses and misuses of images of Leonardo, from art to the mass media, from the 16th century to the present. It consists of a collection in progress, started in 1972, that includes thousands of original artworks and artifacts, reproductions and documentary materials from all over the world, from the ancient engravings to Marcel Duchamp, ex-libris and philately, memorabilia from the nineteenth-century cinema and advertising...

Leonardo's Fingerprints

From an intuition of its Director Alessandro Vezzosi in 1978, following the discovery of fingerprints in Leonardo's paintings and manuscripts, the Museo Ideale has since 2000 been working systematically on the topic of Leonardo's fingerprints, research that is far from reaching definitive conclusions and can be subject misunderstanding and falsification. With the collaboration and interdisciplinary advice of other institutions conducting scholarly investigations, it aims to identify and reconstruct Leonardo's fingerprints and to contribute to anthropological knowledge of the artist and his works, often executed not only of the brush but with the use of his bare fingers.

Museo Ideale of the Renaissance

The museum has begun its external activities, curating exhibitions, publications and work in progress, from "Raphael and the idea of beauty" and "Raphael lives" (Rome 2001), "The School of the World: Leonardo and Michelangelo" (Vinci 2004) "Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael" (Gothenburg 2011 and Istanbul 2012), and the books "Raffaello universale" (2010), "Michelangelo assoluto" (2012).

The Garden of Leonardo and UtopiaEdit

The creation of the "Garden of Leonardo and Utopia", just outside Vinci, as outdoor section of the Museo Ideale, has started the project of the "Village of creativity" and the theme park "Center of art-nature - science for the Tuscany of Leonardo".

The "Labyrinth of Leonardo" has been reconstructed for the first time from the Museo Ideale in 1997 as an artwork based on drawings by Leonardo: the first was designed among sunflowers, then the labyrinth was created with 1,500 trees of "vinci" (purple willow), forming a path 740 meter long with a diameter of 60 meters.

"The path of different trees and flowers" (1999) reinvents, with its spiral shape continuously growing, the idea of the "Avenue" by Bruno Munari: the first plant is the laurel of the President Azeglio Ciampi, followed from those chosen by artists, scientists, poets, authorities and "Friends of the Museum". The "Endless knot" (2007) draws on the land with 1,200 plants of "gioconde roses" the knot inspired by the decoration on the dress of Leonardo's Mona Lisa.

The garden is not open at the moment, awaiting for the reopening of the museum.


Among its multimedia editions: "Leonardo da Vinci e il Codice Hammer": exhibition and cd-rom: 1994; "Leonardo. La pittura", ACTA-EMME, 1995; "La Biblioteca ideale di Leonardo", 1999; "I Parchi di ingegni e meraviglie in Toscana. Da Leonardo e Buontalenti al terzo millennio" for Regione Toscana, 2007; "Itinerario leonardiano" per l'IMSS, 2008.

It curates also publications and travelling exhibitions in Italy and abroad, conferences, educational projects for schools, work in progress with artists, researches and presentations ("Sulle tracce di Leonardo", "Leonardo cinquecento anni dopo","Vinci e Leonardo", "La Toscana nell'arte del XX secolo", "Capolavori del mito","Processi al mito di Leonardo","Il Codice da Vinci di Dan Brown: vero/falso")... Among its projects, that to take back to Italy the Codex Hammer/Leicester (then bought by Bill Gates) and the Tavola Doria.

More recently (in April 2016) it presented in the Teatro di Vinci the discovery, after decades of research, of the living descendants of Leonardo, the new genalogical tree of the Da Vinci family and the scientific research project of their DNA.

Among its external exhibitions: "Leonardo's bridges" (Malmö and Stockholm, 1993, with the Lady with an Ermine); "Leonardo. Le favole e il mare" (Sestri Levante, 1996); "Leonardo. Dal Mediterraneo alla luna" (Cagliari and Alghero, 1997); "Il Giardino dell'utopia da Leonardo a Pratolino" (1999); "Leonardo and Europe" (Assisi, Naples, Rome, Biel-Bienne, 2000-2001); "Léonard. L'artist de la science" (Strasburg, 2002); "Leonardo. I giochi e lo sport" (Athens, 2004; Florence, 2005); "Leonardo and the Codex Leicester" (Tokyo, 2005); "Leonardo. I segreti della creazione nell'arte e nella scienza" (Athens, 2006); "La Joconde inattendue" (Clos-Lucé-Amboise, 2007); "Leonardo a Firenze" (2008); "AND THERE WAS LIGHT, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael. The Masters of Renaissance, seen in a New Light" (Gothenborg, 2010); "Leonardo a Piombino" (2011); "La Gioconda è nuda" (Brindisi, 2011); "Mona Lisa Unveiled" (Miami, 2011); "Leonardo and the idea of beauty" (Shizuoka, Fukuoka, Tokyo, with the Scapiliata, 2011-2012); "The great masters. Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo" (Istanbul, 2012); "Leonardo-Mona Lisa-The Myths" (Kaohsiung, 2013; Taipei 2013-2014);"Leonardo Da Vinci. Beyond the visible" (Edo Tokyo Museum, 2016); “Da Clos Lucé al Louvre, i tre capolavori di Leonardo Da Vinci” (Du Clos Lucé au Louvre, les trois chefs-d’œuvre de Léonard de Vinci, in collaboration with the Centre de Rècherche et de Restauration des Musées de France - C2RMF), in the house-museum in Clos Lucé, where the artist died at 67, on the occasion of the celebration for the fifth centenary of Leonardo's arrival in France.


  • Il Museo Astronave, Vinci, November 1993
  • S. Landi, A proposito del Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci in Ossimori, magazine of Anthropology and Human sciences, 1994
  • I musei etnografici del territorio fiorentino, curated by P. Calosi, G. Cherubini, Z. Giuffoletti, C. Poni, L. Rombai, Provincia di Firenze, 1994
  • Università La Sapienza di Roma. Facoltà di Sociologia a.a. 1995/1996 Mundaneum. Analysis on the organization of the Museo Ideale Leonardo Da Vinci
  • A. Vezzosi, Leonardo da Vinci: arte e scienza dell'universo (coll. "Universale Electa/Gallimard" [nº 73]; first edition by Electa/Gallimard in 1996, coedition in 14 languages and countries); e-book Léonard de Vinci : Art et science de l'univers, coll. "Découvertes Gallimard" [nº 293], app. Gallimard (Paris, 2013) and coedition in Japanese (Sogensha) and Korean (Sigongsa).
  • Carlo Pedretti, in Il Sole 24 ore, 2.XI.1997.
  • Image and Science, XIV, CNRS, Paris, 1997.
  • Vinci e Leonardo, magazine edited by the Museo Ideale (since 1997).
  • Valerio Dehò, A. Vezzosi, Leonardo in azione e poesia, Vinci, MILDV, 2001.
  • A. Sabato - A.Vezzosi (edited by), Il museo ideale Leonardo da Vinci, guide, Vinci, 2002.
  • A. Vezzosi, In viaggio con Leonardo. Invenzioni e macchine di un genio umanissimo, Vinci, MILDV, 2003.
  • A. Sabato, Il Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci,in Amici dei Musei, anno XXX, N.98, April–June 2004.
  • A. Sabato, A. Vezzosi, Leonardo: mito e verità : riscoperte, attualità e nodi della conoscenza, Vinci, MILDV, 2006.
  • C. Pedretti, Così celebre e così incompresa and A. Vezzosi, Nuda alla metà, in «L'Osservatore Romano», 11-II-2011, p. 5.
  • A. Vezzosi, Leonardo infinito, Reggio Emilia, Scripta Maneant, 2008.
  • La Gioconda è nuda / Mona Lisa Unveiled, FKR, San Marino, 2011.

External linksEdit