Da Vinci exhibition may come to Bradenton

Organizers plan to bring 75 Da Vinci Machines Inventions here in November

mclear@bradenton.comAugust 14, 2013 

BRADENTON -- So far, only three cities in the United States have hosted the DaVinci Machines Exhibition. Bradenton could be the fourth.

The exhibition would bring about 75 inventions by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), created by Italian artisans from sketches in Leonardo Da Vinci's notebooks, to the Bradenton Municipal Auditorium for at least five months, starting this fall.

The Manatee County Tourist Development Council is slated to vote Monday on whether to ask the Manatee County Commission for funding to market the exhibit regionally, and the Bradenton City Council will also have to approve the lease for the city's auditorium.

That makes the exhibition's planned stop in Bradenton seem tenuous, but one of its two curators said negotiations are far enough along that they're making plans to bring the exhibition here.

"Obviously, nothing's for sure until we sign the lease," said John Rodgers, who cu

rates the exhibition with his brother, Mark Rodgers. "But from our point of view, we're already talking about how to spend advertising dollars, and we're counting on opening there around the middle of November."

Area officials talk about the possibility of the exhibition more cautiously.

Elliott Falcione, director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said last week it was "premature" to start talking publicly about the exhibition, and negotiations are still ongoing.

The two versions of the Da Vinci Machines Exhibition in the United States are curated by John and Mark Rodgers. One started in Los Angeles and came to St. Louis two years ago. That version later moved to Denver, where it is still showing.

It was so popular with people in St. Louis, the Rodgers brothers brought a second version that had been on display in Australia to St. Louis. That's the one they are planning to bring to Bradenton.

"We looked all over Florida," John Rodgers said. "We looked at Sarasota, Tampa, St. Petersburg, even Miami, and, of course, Orlando. We think Bradenton is the ideal place for this exhibition."

Bradenton is a much smaller city than any of the others that have hosted the Da Vinci Machines Exhibition, but the exhibition has proven to be a destination attraction that can draw people from surrounding areas.

So Bradenton's central location makes it ideal, Rodgers said. He also said he and his brother are impressed by the "renaissance" going on in Bradenton, sparked by the Riverwalk and the Manatee Performing Arts Center, and they wanted to enhance it with this exhibition.

The exhibition features such inventions as a helicopter, catapult and bicycle. Almost half of the approximately 75 machines in the exhibit are interactive.

The two versions of the exhibition are designed so people who have seen one can still enjoy the other, Rodgers said. About half the items in one are also in the other. The version coming here will focus a bit more on Da Vinci's artwork, including a computer re-creation of a long-hidden unfinished mural only recently shown.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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