DaVinci exhibit's Bradenton run extended until end of July

myoung@bradenton.comJune 13, 2014 

Staff Photographer

The DaVinci Machines Exhibition has been one of the biggest attractions in downtown Bradenton ever since it debuted last fall. PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald

PAUL VIDELA — pvidela@bradenton.com Buy Photo

BRADENTON -- Bradenton Auditorium has hosted one of the most successful exhibit runs in the city's history since the November arrival of the DaVinci Machines exhibit featuring the Renaissance-period artisan's many works of arts and engineering masterpieces that are still used today.

According to Mark Rodgers, curator, the interest has not let up since the exhibit first arrived from Denver. Rodgers said a steady flow of 7,000 to 8,000 visitors a month has walked into the Bradenton Auditorium since the exhibit's opening.

That has spurred two extensions on the lease, the latest one approved by the city council Wednesday that allows the exhibit to continue through Aug. 3. Rodgers said the DaVinci materials will actually be packed away July 27 to begin preparations for a spectacular ending to a long, successful run.

Rodgers also announced the Las Vegas act Phat Pack -- consisting of three performers who starred in the Broadway version of "Phantom of the Opera" -- will hold three shows the first weekend in August, with 7:30 p.m. shows Aug. 2-3 and an additional matinee performance Saturday. Tickets for the Phat Pack performances will be available Monday at the ticket window to the DaVinci exhibit.

"They dance, they sing, they talk and they do all original songs," said Rodgers. "It's been the No. 1 best all around show in Las Vegas for the past year."

Rodgers said the visit to Bradenton far surpassed his expectations.

"The three Florence artisans who created this exhibit visited about a month ago and said it was the most beautiful exhibit of the three," said Rodgers, who noted the other two exhibits are currently traveling across Europe. "The Bradenton Auditorium has been one of the most beautiful buildings to highlight this exhibit."

The North American tour of the exhibit began in Los Angeles, then to St. Louis, Denver and finally to Bradenton.

Rodgers said the show is currently in talks with several major cities, but said the Bradenton exhibit has been every bit as much as a success as any major market.

John Rodgers, co-curator, acknowledged the early concerns of bringing the exhibit to Bradenton, "but when you draw a circle around the area with Bradenton in the center, the population is almost as much as Denver. What we didn't know is if people would come to Bradenton from those other areas, but we have achieved the same numbers we saw in Denver. So did they come? Yes, they did."

And they are grateful to the city, residents, visitors, businesses and county organizations who worked hard to bring the exhibit to the city.

"Since we have come to Bradenton we are at the height of our creative output," said Mark Rodgers. x"We didn't think we would top the success we had in Denver, but working with the mayor, Realize Bradenton and the Bradenton Visitors and Convention Bureau has been an overwhelming experience. They have never said no to a single positive, creative idea."

Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.

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