As the Year of Leonardo draws to a close, Florence celebrates the Tuscan genius with a spectacular exhibition bridging art, nature and science in the dormitory and great cloister of the Santa Maria Novella complex, where Leonardo sketched preparatory cartoons for The Battle of Anghiari in the early 16th century.



On stepping into the Santa Maria Novella complex from the station side, exhibition goers are wowed by impactful video mapping on the centuries-old ceiling of Leonardo’s natural decorations of the Sala delle Asse in Milan’s Castello Sforzesco.


Come, oh men, to see the miracles that such studies will disclose to nature. (Leonardo da Vinci, Madrid Codex I, f.6r)



More modern plant studies at The Botany of Leonardo exhibition




Suitable for families, original folios, interactive installations and living plants entertain in a blend of art and science that looks at the interconnections between nature and humans. Leonardo was the first to understand that trees could be dated using the rings inside the trunk, known as dendrochronology; he was the first to consider how nature adapts to light (phototropism) and gravity (geotropism); and he was the first to realize how leaves are always arranged in the same way. All of these pioneering discoveries are explained through interactive installations that inform and inspire.  







Three priceless original folios from the Codex Atlanticus, on loan from Milan’s Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, are the cultural highlight of the show before visitors return to the here and now with a photo opportunity stood in the centre of the “Vitruvian Tree”, a wooden reworking of the famous Vitruvian Man designed to make us reconsider that humans are part of a wider, interconnected, living world.



Slip on your sunglasses and explore the exhibition’s extension in the scenic surroundings of the great cloister. Wander around the five enigmatic polyhedra, drawn by Leonardo for Luca Pacioli’s De Divina Proportione mathematical manuscript, gaze at the polymath’s backwards writing reflected and rectified in a mirror, and observe the reproductions of the alchemical kilns unearthed in Florence’s St. Mark’s convent.








“Florence has paid tribute to Leonardo in recent months with exhibitions that have examined the genius from Vinci from a number of viewpoints,” commented Mayor of Florence Dario Nardella at a press conference. “We end this year dedicated to Leonardo by looking at another aspect: his extraordinary botanical intuitions, sparked by his sharp spirit of observation and continuous experiments, which underline a dynamic vision of science, full of food for thought for our time.”



The exhibition curators are Stefano Mancuso, one of the top authorities in the world in the field of plant neurobiology; Fritjof Capra, physicist, theorist and Leonardo scholar; and Valentino Mercati, founder and president of Aboca.



The Botany of Leonardo was created and produced by Aboca, a Tuscan natural healthcare company that has been active in the healthcare field for more than 40 years.








The Botany of Leonardo. A Vision of Science Bridging Art and Nature

Santa Maria Novella complex, Florence (dual entrance: piazza della Stazione 4 / piazza Santa Maria Novella (basilica)

Until December 15, 2019



Combined ticket: exhibition + Santa Maria Novella complex

Full price €10 euro / Discounted price 7.50 euro (11-18 year olds)

Free for residents of the municipality of Florence (ID is required) and children under 11

Guided tours available in Italian and English, with reservations (+39 055 2768558 / +39 055 2768224 / [email protected])


Full price 5 euro / Discounted price 2.50 euro (residents of the Metropolitan City of Florence)

Open in September: Monday to Thursday 9am – 7pm; Friday 11am – 7pm; Saturday 9am – 5:30pm; Sunday 1–5:30pm; October – December: Monday to Thursday 9am – 5:30pm; Friday 11am – 5:30pm; Saturday 9am – 5:30pm; Sunday 1–5:30pm






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