Located just a short walk from the most popular tourist spots in Venice, the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum is an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours of hands-on fun. Da Vinci invented so many incredible things – like ball bearings that are still used in machinery today – and this museum brings them to life with wooden recreations that you can operate yourself.
The first floor of the museum contains several replicas of da Vinci’s most famous works of art with descriptions and information about their significance. You can also see some of his handwritten manuscripts. I passed through these displays pretty quickly because I was anxious to get up to the hands-on portion of things.
Before I left this gallery, I waited in line for a few minutes for a virtual reality exhibit. I had no idea what was actually being played in the headsets, but like a tourist, I saw a line and I stood in it. It wasn’t all bad – I got to watch a couple short movies about da Vinci’s life while I was waiting. I’m not much of a video person, so I usually pass by those kinds of things.
The VR line was slow-moving because there were only two sets, but I thought it was a cool experience. It introduced you to a couple of da Vinci’s inventions – the precursor to the machine gun and a wooden tank. The tank was never constructed during his lifetime, but the VR reconstruction took you inside of it and showed how it, along with his rapid fire gun, could be used in an assault on an enemy.
The last stop before heading upstairs was a mirror room that he designed so that he could observe his subject from all angles without having to move around. It’s kind of fun to play around in, and I totally support making elaborate inventions to minimize movement.
Hands-on activities at the da Vinci museum
The best part of the da Vinci museum is located upstairs. The whole second floor (or first in European terms) is full of wooden reconstructions of da Vinci’s designs. Not all of them are intended to be played with, but let’s face it, the coolest ones are. I spent most of my time at the museum playing with the various inventions, and it was one of my favorite things that I did in Venice.
Kids (and fun adults) can assemble a special portable bridge da Vinci designed, among other cool building activities. This would definitely be one of the best things to do with kids in Venice.
This automated hammer was one of my favorites. The disk with the notch in it is spun by the crank and as it gets wider, the hammer is raised. Once the notch comes back around, it causes the hammer to drop. I’m terrible at explaining this. Just watch the video.
Other fun things included the prototype flywheel and ball bearings. I mean ball bearings are used in your car today. They’re in your desk chair at work. They’re everywhere, and these original wooden ones were invented by Leonardo DaVinci.
Practical information for visiting the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Venice
Here’s all of the info you need in order to plan your visit.
The Leonardo da Vinci museum is located near the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the Santa Lucia train station. The nearest vaporetto stop is San Toma. It’s less than a 5-minute walk from there.
At the time of my visit in January 2018, admission was 8 euros for adults. Children 6 and up were 5 euros.
Da Vinci museum hours vary by season. Check the hours before planning a visit.
Check out these other great things to do in Italy:
- Touring the Top of the Colosseum
- Visiting Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome
- What to See at the Musei Capitolini in Rome
Don’t forget to save this post for later on Pinterest!