Past exhibitions


Temporary exhibition | 16 December 2018 – 29 September 2019 | Prato textile Museum

Till 29 September 2019, the Museo del Tessuto in Prato presents an exhibition dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. By exploring Da Vinci’s development and invention of devices and machinery, the exhibition highlights the artist’s interest, cognizance and ingenuity in one of the predominant economic activities of his time, textile art.
The Prato Museo del Tessuto Foundation organised the exhibition in collaboration with the Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci in Milan and the Museo Leonardiano in Vinci. It is also supported by the prestigious sponsorship and contribution of Italy’s National Committee to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci.

The initiative aims to effectively promote understanding and awareness of Da Vinci’s inventions through 3D reconstructions, multimedia systems and scale models. It also presents an opportunity to appreciate the importance of mechanical engineering and its application in the textile industry, an element that firmly links this exhibition to the history of the Prato district.

The exhibition itinerary begins with the first section featuring large-scale reproductions of selected paintings by Leonardo are interpreted through a new and unusual perspective that highlights Da Vinci’s drapery studies and analyses. These were aimed at achieving a better result when painting the consistency of cloth and the movement of folds in relation to different types of fabric. The second section presents Da Vinci’s studies dedicated to the textile sector, an industry that experienced significant development in the Lombard area during the fifteenth century.

An initial immersive multimedia experience illustrates the wool and silk production process, uncovered through accurate iconographic research on the treatises and manuscripts of the period. Precious textiles from the Museum collections are paired with this content, presenting examples of the cloths and embroideries that were produced during Da Vinci’s lifetime. A second multimedia experience illustrates the phases of the wool and silk production process on which Leonardo focused, accompanied by Da Vinci’s drawings from the Codex Atlanticus and Codex Madrid I and the dynamic 3D models created by the Museo Leonardiano in Vinci.

Six historical wooden and metal models, on loan from the Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci in Milan, are also on display; there are devices for twisting and plying the silk yarn, a raising machine and a mechanical loom. One of the more complex machines that he invented, the loom was devised using manual specimens but equipped with an automatic flying shuttle, a mechanism that was only re-visited during the pre-industrial age.

The exhibition allows us to comprehend how Da Vinci’s genius and studies were oriented towards the optimisation of textile production and how they have constituted the technological framework for the main innovations introduced in the sector during the first industrial revolution. These innovations, representing the foundation of modern automation, are currently used in the main phases of the textile production process.

The main sponsor of the initiative is ESTRA, a Tuscan holding company which is one of the top ten industrial groups for the supply of energy within Italy. The Region of Tuscany, Acimit and Gruppo meccanotessili (textile machinery manufactures) di Confindustria Toscana Nord have also contributed to the exhibition.

Opening hours

Tuesday – Thursday: 10 am – 3 pm; Friday and Saturday: 10 am – 7 pm; Sunday: 3 pm – 7 pm; closed Monday


Full price: € 7; Concession: € 5


You Might Also Like