To say that Leonardo da Vinci was ahead of his time is the understatement of the century — well, five centuries really. The visionary Renaissance artist and inventor was so forward thinking and well-traveled back in the 16th Century, one can’t help but wonder what he would think of a progressive town like Las Vegas.
Would his prophetic concepts find a use in a crazy tourist town, based on gambling, partying and spectacle?
We’d like to think so.
Da Vinci The Exhibition, currently on display in the Imagine Exhibitions Gallery at the Venetian, showcases the breadth of the Italian genius’ creations including his anatomical studies, his famous paintings and his scientific and mechanical drawings.
“The exhibit provides an overview of Leonardo da Vinci’s work,” said Tom Zaller, president and CEO of Imagine Exhibitions. “When you finish you’re going to wonder, ‘What didn’t this guy do?’”
Visitors will see more than 20 fine art studies of paintings such as Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, Portrait of a Young Man and Virgin of the Rocks, as well as 65 life-size replicas of his inventions.
Here’s a look at how some of those inventions might translate into the Vegas experience.
The ultimate Vegas selfie
Las Vegas was named the 20th most selfiest city in the world by TIME this week. Well, it’s a little known fact that da Vinci invented the ultimate selfie experience — an octagonal box, surrounded on the inside by mirrors on every wall. Sure you could snap your selfie by the Welcome to Las Vegas sign or holding a yardlong margarita on Fremont Street, but why not take your narcissism to the next level? Post a multi-angled selfie of yourself in Vegas that will dazzle and perplex your Facebook friends for hours.
While this box was actually created to provide the artist with a better perspective on his subjects, leave it to those of us in the modern era to find a more self-centered use.
Knowing da Vinci’s love for machines and scientific advancement, we personally think he’d be proud. We can totally see Leo posing with his iPhone now, duck face and all.
The original Sigma Derby
If you haven’t played the coin-operated Sigma Derby in a Las Vegas casino, you haven’t really lived. Betting on those little electro-mechanical horses as they go galloping around a track will make you feel like a million bucks — and it only costs a quarter at resorts like D Las Vegas.
The popular old-school Las Vegas casino game was introduced in 1985. But Leo laid the groundwork back in the 16th century with his Scythe Chariot, a twist on the traditional Roman chariot of his time.
With room for up to 10 players, Sigma Derby can be quite cut-throat depending upon your competitive nature. Leo’s invention, on the other hand, could literally cut your throat. His deadly combat instrument had rotating blades operated by an axle-driven transmission system that would slice anyone in their path.
Sounds like a gambling man to us.
The first roulette wheel
Round and round and round it goes. Where it’ll land nobody knows!
A game of pure chance, roulette is a staple in Vegas casinos, offering players a variety of betting options.
This early ball bearing rotating wheel in the da Vinci exhibit reminded us of a colorless, numberless, early version of the classic American or European roulette game (the Russian kind is totally different).
Ball bearings were designed to reduce friction between two adjacent moving parts and reduce the wear and tear caused by friction, thereby increasing the speed of the mechanism’s movement. While the first known discovery of a device that used ball bearings was during the time of the Roman empire, Leo invented the ball bearing as we know it today: Using balls, rollers and lubricating oil (which sounds a bit like a completely different kind of Vegas game).
The foosball table
Leave it to Leo, the ultimate bachelor, to lay the groundwork for the first foosball table. We can just see him now teaming up with his bros against his Renaissance rival Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni for Battle of the Artists: Foosball Edition.
When did these guys find the time?
A popular bar game sometimes played at Vegas bachelor parties, foosball or table football was actually invented in 1921.
This interactive replica of Leo’s vision was not accompanied by a descriptor card, so we’re not entirely sure what it was really supposed to do.
Da Vinci The Exhibition runs Sundays through Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. (until 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays) at the Venetian. Tickets are $27.50. Buy tickets, here.