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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spotlight

A Leonardo learning experience

Line I overheard on the bus last week: "That Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the MAC isn't even real! They want us to pay to see a bunch of fake stuff!"

OK, where should I begin?

First, get real. Did you truly expect the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) to have an original da Vinci painting? There are only about 16 da Vinci paintings in existence and unless your museum has the word "Louvre" in it's name, your chances of getting one is just about nil.

Second, most of the exhibit consists of large, wooden models of mechanical devices made from drawings in da Vinci's notebooks. You can call those "fakes," I suppose, except there there is no such thing as an "original" of these devices. Da Vinci never made any.

Third, "fake" or not, you'll learn a heck of a lot about da Vinci, one of the most remarkable minds of all time. And isn't that the point?

Fourth, decades ago, I once saw the "Mona Lisa" on loan to the National Gallery in Washington D.C. Yeah, it was the real thing, all right, but the crowds were so enormous (500,000 in 27 days)  and the security was so tight I got about a one-second glimpse of it. We were whisked past it on moving walkway. The one I saw at the MAC was a fake -- a digital reproduction -- but I sure got a better look at the old girl.



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