Kids can 'Dream With Da Vinci' at new DuPage Children's Museum exhibit

 
By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 11/16/2016 10:34 AM
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  • Kids can become part of da Vinci's "Mona Lisa."

    Kids can become part of da Vinci's "Mona Lisa." Courtesy of Curious Kids Museum in St. Joseph, Michigan

Melding his dreams with his fascination for math, science and art, 15th-century overachiever Leonardo da Vinci created artistic masterpieces and lasting inventions.

He painted the Mona Lisa and came up with the idea for the parachute.

So when DuPage Children's Museum staff members heard about a traveling exhibit that gives kids' interactive ways to explore the same territory that da Vinci so creatively traversed, they jumped on the chance to bring the exhibit to their Naperville home turf.

"It really accomplishes our mission of integrating math, science and art together," said Katie Cadena, the museum's senior public programs manager.

"Dream With Da Vinci" opens Saturday, Nov. 19, and will continue through April 2.

Housed in 2,000 square feet on the museum's second floor, various portions of the exhibit are geared to different age groups. There's something for everyone between the ages of 3 and 12, Cadena said.

Da Vinci's identity as an artist will be experienced when children have the opportunity to draw and model for other artists and use clay to fashion sculptures. Visitors can try out a version of one of da Vinci's inventions, the perspectograph, which enables painters to create the illusion of three dimensions in two-dimensional paintings.

The new Dream With Da Vinci exhibit opens Saturday and runs through April 2 at the DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville.
The new Dream With Da Vinci exhibit opens Saturday and runs through April 2 at the DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville. - Courtesy of Curious Kids Museum in St. Joseph, Michigan

And there also will be a small version of da Vinci's unfinished horse sculpture project, which was interrupted by a military invasion in Milan, Italy.

Science and math enter the picture when museum visitors launch foam blocks and hacky sacks via a catapult based on a da Vinci design, Cadena said.

Visitors can get a sense of what it must be like to sail on air currents in a glider when they use the exhibit's flight sensation simulator, she said.

There's also a miniature parachute drop that parallels the museum's permanent AWEsome Air exhibit, she said, where visitors can send small parachutes through a tube.

Da Vinci packed an immense amount of ambition, drive and follow-through into his 67 years.

"I was blown away at the breadth of the things he experimented on," Cadena said.

The idea for the exhibit was born a couple of years ago.

"It was developed by Curious Kids' Museum in St. Joseph, Michigan. They developed it as a traveling exhibit," said Jamie Johnson, DuPage Children's Museum senior marketing manager. "We're going to be the first stop along the way."

A small version of da Vinci's unfinished horse sculpture project will be on display as part of the 2,000-square-foot exhibit.
A small version of da Vinci's unfinished horse sculpture project will be on display as part of the 2,000-square-foot exhibit. - Courtesy of Curious Kids Museum in St. Joseph, Michigan

"We first heard about this exhibit at the Association of Children's Museums national conference," Cadena said.

Cadena said the DuPage Children's Museum will add to the original exhibit with art classes and other activities built around the da Vinci theme.

Admission to the exhibit is included with museum admission. A members-only sneak peek is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 18.

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