Tuesday I had an opportunity to see the "Leonardo Da Vinci: Man | Inventor | Genius" exhibit at the Putnam. I'm a pretty nerdy guy, so seeing some of his assorted inventions created in the modern world, and being able to use (play with) them was pretty appealing to me.
Personally, I enjoyed it plenty, which I'll get into later. But... I had free tickets. The exhibit is $12, which to my surprise does not include admission into the rest of the museum. I didn't even realize that the Putnam had the capability to do this, but they do, and I think it actually worked quite well. You go in a separate door into the theater area, and then through there into the exhibit area. I could definitely see them doing something like this again in the future. Extra special exhibits, with an extra fee, have become pretty common at museums around the country. I paid probably around $12 extra beyond regular admission at the Phoenix Science Center to see a traveling James Bond exhibit. So was it a good deal for people paying $12?
If you're a Da Vinci fan, I would definitely say it is worth it. There are literally dozens of wooden models of some of the many things he sketched and invented. There are also a number of computer screens scattered around the exhibit with 3D animations of how those inventions, and others, would work in the real world. One of my few complaints with the exhibit itself was that the computer program didn't seem that polished, but it was pretty easy to understand, and all the screens were working. One of the complaints I had heard about the exhibit was that some of the things weren't working, which wasn't the case on my visit. All of the pieces that you could operate seemed to be working fine. There was indeed a bucket under a leak in the roof, but hey, "you go to exhibits with the museum you have." I hate when museums have broken exhibits, so I was glad that ours didn't. There were several school groups there at the time, and the kids seemed to be enjoying all the hands-on activity just fine.
The verdict? If this exhibit had been in the regular museum, it would have probably been the best exhibit they've ever had. Even doubling the museum admission price to $12 during the exhibit would have been fine by me. As a stand-alone exhibit for $12, I felt it was a bit steep. I was also disappointed that they don't offer discounts for museum members, which my sister is. Don't start chalking me up as a negative guy now, I did like the exhibit. I just hope that if the Putnam gets traveling world-renowned exhibits again, they include regular museum admission with the special ehxibit price.