Leonardo da Vinci’s precious Codex on the Flight of Birds is on display in Rome for the first time in its history, as part of the exhibition “Leonardo e il Volo” (“Leonardo and Flying”), held at the Capitoline Museums until April 17, 2017.
The Codex on the Flight of Birds, housed in the Royal Library of Turin since 1893, is an 18-page notebook where the Renaissance genius outlined, in 1505-1506, his studies on flight, which he based on the scientific observation of birds. He then developed a theory which he used to design his flying machines. His observations and concepts would be used in the early 20th century to build the first airplanes.
Leonardo, a passionate scholar of all subjects, was especially fascinated by the possibility of human mechanical flight.
Multimedia equipment will allow visitors to leaf through the pages of the manuscript, which includes a mysterious portrait thought to have been a self-portrait, to read the texts in Italian and English and to observe the prototypes he designed through tridimensional reconstructions. The original codex will be on display inside an air-conditioned box, necessary to maintain the moisture needed for its preservation.
The exhibition includes some historical copies of the codex on loan from the Royal Library of Turin; an installation retracing the history of human and robotic flight by the Italian Space Agency; and a 3D documentary by David Attenborough, Conquest of the Skies.
The Codex on the Flight of Birds became universally known when a digital version was inserted into a chip placed on the Curiosity rover, which was then sent to Mars, during a joint collaboration between NASA and the Italian Space Agency.