The Teylers Museum for art and science opened in 1784 – five years before the French Revolutionaries stormed the Bastille and George Washington was elected the first president of the USA. As a museum of art and science, it houses fossils, minerals and instruments that were used in science experiments, as well as drawings and paintings. Since October 5, it also houses a temporary exhibition on Leonardo da Vinci. It is hard to imagine a place that would be better suited to host this exhibition than the Teylers Museum for art and science.
Da Vinci was a true ‘Renaissance Man’. This means that he didn’t confine his work and interests to one particular field, instead, he studied and mastered arts, science, medicine and probably more. This versatility of da Vinci is clearly depicted. We can look at his studies on human anatomy, his blueprints for machines and other inventions. The Teylers Museum also does a great job incorporating da Vinci into its permanent exhibition. The Leonardo Trail leads through rooms full of fossils and machinery to give us insights on da Vinci’s own thoughts and research. How did Leonardo explain the fossils he found during his walks through Italian mountains? How would the machines he had invented or imagined relate to future developments? The da Vinci Trail does a great job of making connections and placing da Vinci’s ideas amongst other famous scientific milestones.
Nowadays, da Vinci is most famous as a painter. One aspect that makes his art so special is his naturalistic approach and ability to capture human emotion and characters. This becomes apparent throughout the exhibition. We see how he had captured and exaggerated peculiar features in his caricatures to make his contemporaries laugh. Or, we can take a deep-dive on one of his most famous pieces of art, the Last Supper, to observe how carefully and close-to-life da Vinci has created Jesus and the apostles to tell this story.
Visiting the Teyler Museum once is hardly enough to take in everything it has to offer. This museum seems to be some sort of magic building – much larger than it seems. There are so many stories and so much information hidden in those display cases, it is impossible to absorb it all in one visit. And then, there is also a temporary exhibition. Fortunately, there is also a nice museum café where you can relax, think about what you have seen and maybe even plan your next visit.
- Definitely take an audio guide to listen to the stories behind the exhibits. I especially enjoyed the additional explanations in the fossil rooms.
- Check if you can join a theatrical tour through the Lorentz Lab. Unfortunately, those tours are in Dutch only.
- Take a break at the museum café: The cafe’s style and name changes with the temporary exhibition, currently you can enjoy Italian snacks and ‘caffè’.
The exhibition on Leonardo da Vinci can be visited until January 6, 2019.