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DaVinci Alive at the Science Museum of Virginia is the Epitome of STEAM for Families

“Learn to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”   – Leonardo da Vinci


The Science Museum of Virginia, long known for their innovative presentations of science and technology, have outdone themselves this summer with DaVinci Alive – The Experience. And what an experience it is. Tucked behind the Speed exhibit and down a set of stairs is a world of wonder.

Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452 and by the time of his death in 1519, he had created and innovated in art, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Although he had very little formal education, he is the personification of the current educational mantra of STEAM: science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics.

From pulley systems to easy labor to the first bicycle, from the Mona Lisa to studies of time, DaVinci Alive touches all aspects of modern education and Leonardo’s life. While walking around reading short biographies, as well as lengthier explanations of the science and craftsmanship behind da Vinci’s works, children are drawn to the bright green Please Touch signs to wind cranks and stand in mirrored closets to see, as my 10-year-old commented, “infinite armies of us.”

My toddler bee-lined for the multi-sensory room at the back of the exhibition with a constant and excited question: “Noise, where are you?” And there it is – screens on the walls, as well as an enormous sculpture with readings and photos and music and art coming and going through the speakers and projected on to every surface to be absorbed sitting on a bench or wandering through the floor projection making this room the perfect way for the youngest to oldest patrons to absorb the overwhelming genius of da Vinci.

Museum employees and volunteers are on hand with extensive knowledge of the particulars of da Vinci’s life displayed in their assigned room filled with da Vinci’s notes and ideas brought to life in replicas of flying machines and the original colors of the 500-year-old Mona Lisa.

Da Vinci’s work not only changed his present, but he created many prototypes, from the automobile to the military tank. Although one of Leonardo’s quotes on the wall of the exhibit states, “In time and with water, everything changes,” I had the distinct feeling that much of what we value today – whether it be our ability to travel by land, sea, and air – or what and how our children learn, Leonardo da Vinci had foreseen it, and moreover, with his intellect and ingenuity, lit the way for us. Perhaps, he will inspire a new renaissance man, or woman, right here in Richmond, Virginia.

DaVinci Alive – The Experience is in the Dewey Gottwalk Center in the Science Museum of Virginia through September 5. Tickets are $25 per person, with $1 discount for youth and seniors. Museum member tickets are $7. Da Vinci Alive tickets during regular hours include exhibit admission.

NEW FOR JULY: See Da Vinci Alive – The Experience Friday evenings in July from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for only $10, and $7 for members. Only Da Vinci Alive – The Experience will be available for viewing at this time. Other Museum experiences will be closed.

For tickets, visit or call 804-864-1400.

Alex Iwashyna lives in Richmond with a husband, three kids, three cats, and one dog. She’s a philosopher, turned medical doctor, turned writer and mother who maintains a humor blog, except when it’s serious, at

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