Christoph Rahofer, Producer of Orlando’s new Leonardo da Vinci exhibition, “Man – Inventor – Genius” on International Drive took some time out of his busy Grand Opening schedule to talk with us about all things da Vinci!
About the inspiration of the daVinci exhibition itself Christoph says, “It had a lot to do with the daVinci Code. I purchased the book back in 2003 on my summer vacation, which happened to be in Italy. I ran into this very nice family who (had) already been building machines based on da Vinci’s codex for two generations. I thought that was a cool idea so we got together and figured out how to make an exhibition based on da Vinci’s inventions.”
Where did it start? “We started off in my hometown in Vienna, Austria with this exhibit,” says Christoph. “That was way back in 2004, and it’s been traveling for ten years to some of the major cities in the world – three continents in fact!”
So far, the exhibition is scheduled to stay here in Orlando through Summer 2015, after which EMS Entertainment will make a decision to extend its stay or continue on to another state or country. “I hope we can keep it longer here in Orlando. I think it’s also a very interesting, controversial fit to CSI: The Experience, which is right next door. That should be an interesting combination of the two,” he says tongue-in-cheek.
Because of the breadth of inventions and innovations in da Vinci’s repertoire, Christoph and his team came up with four unique classifications to break up the exhibition. “War Machines, Hydraulics, Mechanics and Flight is how we have clustered the different machines that we have on display. Here in the Orlando exhibit, there is about forty two to forty five different machines that you can see,” he says.
“They’re built out in three dimensional ways so you can actually see how he meant them to be. We added, at a later stage actually as the original exhibition was just inventions, the other component of da Vinci to really show his genius on the artistic side. We added twenty three of his paintings in original size, re-created.”
A large scale reproduction of da Vinci’s The Last Supper, measuring 9 x 5 meters (approximately 29 x 16 feet), is one of the largest art pieces in this exhibition. Here’s where Christoph lets us in on another secret – but you can’t tell anyone, okay? “What you can’t see – I’ll tell you this secret, don’t tell anyone – is you have to have a certain viewpoint,” he confides. “What we detected in doing all the research behind this is that da Vinci, in some kind of hidden formula, suggests a certain distance to the painting that you would have to assume in order to have the right point of view as well as a certain height. What we did here (in Orlando), we lowered the painting and put it on the ground floor in order to not elevate visitors (us!) to watch it from the right perspective.”
Christoph went on to teach me something fascinating I had no idea of about Leonardo da Vinci. “We also added the music of da Vinci (to the exhibit). In his time, he was best known as a musician, interestingly. That’s what nobody knows, he was a folk musician! There are no translated scores to be found of his music so we had the University of Vienna Music Department re-create the Renaissance music based on what we know he must have been playing.”
Another cool thing Christoph taught us? da Vinci was a pacifist. ‘So, why did he design all those scary War Machines?’ Just like any other starving artist, they’ve got to eat too! Long before the days of intellectual property and copyright, the only payday Leonardo would see was from that which he successfully created. What his patrons of said machines may not have been aware of was… “da Vinci actually put in some failures into the war machines because, by nature, he was a pacifist. He didn’t like people to get into war but he took the orders, he wanted the money, so he invented some stuff for them but put in failures so they wouldn’t work.” Clever, right? But, again, don’t tell anyone. We’re sworn to secrecy… right Christoph?