Miami faculty shine new light on da Vinci at Cincinnati Museum Center exhibit


CINCINNATI — A team of experts from Miami University is stopping by Da Vinci – The Genius, an exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center, to help guests learn even more about history’s most brilliant mind. Professors and staff host gallery talks noon-2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, at the museum.

Although many know da Vinci as the painter of the Mona Lisa, he was much more than an artist. He was an accomplished inventor, engineer, musician, anatomist, biologist, sculptor and philosopher. His brilliance was recognized in his lifetime and has only been enhanced by the test of time.

“Da Vinci was a true Renaissance man who not only dabbled in but excelled in a wide range of fields,” said Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “We’re excited to welcome a talented team of experts from Miami University to offer our guests a deeper look at all sides of da Vinci as a man and as a genius.”

“These talks present a great opportunity for the public to view da Vinci from multiple new perspectives,” said P. Renée Baernstein, professor of history and associate dean of Miami’s College of Arts and Science. “I’m confident that they’ll come away with a greater sense of familiarity and appreciation for his tremendous accomplishments.”

While encouraging their guests to stump them with questions, faculty will offer in-depth analyses on:

– Mona Lisa and Portraiture (Andrew Casper, art history): What’s the big deal about Mona Lisa and her smile? Learn about da Vinci’s revolutionary painting techniques and why her portrait has become so famous.

– Genius vs. Creativity (Mostafa Modirrousta, mechanical and manufacturing engineering): Why is da Vinci considered a genius and what drove him? Could you create one of the machines he invented? Try your hand and see.

– Renaissance Anatomies (Cindy Klestinec, English): Did da Vinci draw from cadavers? Was he a vegetarian? And why did he write backwards? Find out how people in the Renaissance reimagined how the human body worked and how da Vinci used the scientific method.

– Dissection Demonstration (Steve Sullivan, Hefner Museum of Natural History): Though controversial in his time, da Vinci’s dissection of human bodies revealed the bones and muscles that made the body move, information that he sketched in great detail, leading many to consider him the Father of Anatomy. Try your own hand at drawing like da Vinci while observing the real muscles and bones of fresh and prepared specimens.

– Weapons and Warfare (P. Renée Baernstein, history): Da Vinci dreamed up war machines like tanks, machine guns and submarines, yet many were never built. Learn how kings really fought battles in the Renaissance and why only some of da Vinci’s designs found willing buyers.

Free lecture Aug. 25

Join Miami faculty for free mini-lectures at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, at the Cincinnati Museum Center. The panel of faculty members are from Miami’s departments of global and intercultural studies, humanities and creative arts and Interdisciplinary and communication studies. “The Mona Lisa Legacy: Her Power and Influence in Contemporary Visual Culture” will feature three interpretations of history’s most famous painting and its contemporary echoes in visual arts, material and popular cultures.

• Jana Evans Braziel (global and intercultural studies) will examine the ways modern artists like Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat recycled the image of the Mona Lisa.

• Lori Parks (humanities and creative arts) will discuss how contemporary artists explore issues of gender, beauty, body and identity through a reinterpretation of the portrait.

• Caryn Neumann (interdisciplinary and communication studies) will dive into the Mona Lisa’s prevalence in American popular culture, including as a representation of Little Italy, shorthand for art, and in comics, movies and even LEGO exhibits.

The lecture does not include admission to Da Vinci – The Genius. Registration is encouraged. Call 513-287-7000 to register.

“Da Vinci – The Genius” features 17 themed galleries with over 200 pieces, including more than 70 life-size inventions, educational animations of his most notable works and an eye-opening, in-depth analysis of history’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa. Guests can push, pull, crank and interact with many of these pieces for a hands-on understanding of the science behind the genius.

Da Vinci – The Genius was developed by Grande Exhibitions, with the help of the Comune di Roma, Comune di Firenze, Cittá di Venezia and Pascal Cotte of Lumière Technologies, France.

For more information, visit

By Jason Barone

MU College of Arts and Science

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