Leonardo da Vinci Exhibition 2019 | A Life in Drawing, Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

leonardo da vinci exhibition 2019
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On Sunday afternoon we headed to Sunderland Winter Gardens to see their new exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing. The exhibition marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, and is part of a nationwide event across 12 venues, all showing different drawings from the Royal collection. Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens is the only place to see this work between Leeds & Glasgow! Good job we don’t live too far from Sunderland then!

What do you need to know about the exhibition?

You do need a ticket to the exhibition so please book online before you head down. On the day we visited on the opening weekend visitors were being turned away due to full capacity. The tickets for the exhibition are available in one-hour time slots and can be purchased via sunderlandmuseum.org.uk or at the Visitor Services desk in the museum. Adults are priced at £2.50 and children are free (but still need to book a slot). The Leonardo da Vinci Exhibition runs until 6th May 2019 so plenty of time to get down to check it out.

The exhibition is on the first floor of the museum and it’s definitely worth saving some time to look at the other exhibits in the museum. We spent a good few hours pottering around & had time for a cup of coffee in Holmeside Coffee shop.

Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens is really easy to find slap bang in the middle of the city centre. We parked at the nearby Bridges car park which was £2 for all day parking on a Sunday.

Who was Leonardo da Vinci?

Da Vinci has been described as the true renaissance man, an artist, inventor, sculptor, and scientist. He lived between 1452 and died in 1519 at the age of 67. There is much more to da Vinci than the famous paintings of Mona Lisa & the Last Supper. This is a man who over 500 years ago invented the blue print for a flying machine! The 12 drawings in the exhibition reflect da Vinci’s varied interests including anatomy, geology, engineering & even a spot of costume designing for the theatre! The guy could turn his hand to anything.

leonardo da vinci exhibition 2019

Personally, the anatomy was the most interesting to me, and where you could see Leonardo da Vinci’s Drawings and famous mirror image writing in all it’s glory! It is believed that Leonardo was left-handed and he wrote in mirror form to prevent the ink being smudged. Some of the drawings were mounted on a glass frame so you could see both sides of the sheet of paper. The sketch of the young girl’s profile (as seen on the front of the programme) was really beautiful too & had amazing attention to detail.

leonardo da vinci exhibition 2019
leonardo da vinci exhibition 2019

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing

As the event was ticketed the gallery wasn’t too crowded and you certainly weren’t rushed to look around! Unlike some other exhibitions we have visited with the kids, there was no specific child activities or quizzes to do in the da Vinci gallery itself due to space & limitations of the exhibition.

Sunderland Museum & Winter gardens have recognized this and have developed a full programme of activities with children in mind, some events are free to drop in and some pre-bookable through the Sunderland Museum & winter gardens website. The aim of the supporting education programme is to bring the works of Leonardo da Vinci to life in a fun and exciting way.

Chinese New Year Zodiac Trail

For £2.50 a zodiac trail was available to buy from the reception which took the kids on a trail around the museum looking for Chinese zodiac animals. For each animal they found, there was a task such as make the noise of the animal or hug a member of the family which amused them.

Sunderland Winter Gardens
Sunderland Winter Gardens
Sunderland Winter Gardens
Sunderland Winter Gardens

The Winter gardens was a lovely warm respite from the biting cold outside! Completed trails were swapped for a toy at the end. Our kids love this sort of thing and are very motivated by a prize!

Further trails for children are planned to fit around the da Vinci exhibition. In February half Term the museum launch their code cracker trail and then an Inventions trail from March, April to May. The trails are great for engaging kids with da Vinci’s work in a fun & educational way.

Holmeside Coffee shop

All that culture & treasure hunting required a pit stop for something sweet. The girls went for a brownie & a croissant. I went for the fruit scone & Alan the smashed avocado on toast. This with 2 diet Cokes and 2 Americanos (made from ouseburn coffee beans) came to £22 which wasn’t too bad. The cafe is independently owned and had a great atmosphere-busy but very friendly with a great view of the winter gardens. The girls were tickled at the ducks doing a bit of ice skating on the frozen Mowbray Park lake. We need to make plans to return to this park in the summer as it’s one of the best in the region.

Holmeside Cafe
Holmeside Cafe
Holmeside Cafe
Holmeside Cafe

Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

As mentioned the Leonardo da Vinci, a life in drawing exhibition is on in Sunderland until the 6th May 2019. After this time, all of the drawings which have been exhibited around the 12 venues in the country will be compiled at a large scale exhibition in Buckingham Palace.

During the time the da Vinci drawings are in place in Sunderland a supporting programme of events & activities has been compiled for adults & children. Events include guided tours, 3-D model making and a series of children’s holiday craft events (some additional charges may apply-see website) I would recommend coming when an event is on to bring the work of da Vinci to life and gain more understanding of the renaissance man.

See https://sunderlandculture.org.uk/our-venues/sunderland-museum-winter-gardens/ 

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