MORE than 17,000 visitors have so far been to see a unique exhibition of Leonardo Da Vinci drawings at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.

Hundreds more visitors have already booked to see Leonardo: A Life in Drawing over the coming Easter school holidays, when a programme of complementary activity has been organised.

The exhibition is part of a national tour marking the 500th anniversary of the Italian master’s death. Sunderland is one of only 12 UK venues chosen by the Royal Collection Trust to simultaneously host the exhibition, which features a total of 144 of Leonardo drawings. The exhibition runs until May 6.

Over the next fortnight, extra Leonardo-related activities have been organised at the Museum and Winter Gardens.

The fun starts this Saturday (April 6) with an Illuminate Science Family Day. This will incorporate two different workshops – Physics Busking and Fluorescent Painting. The Physics Busking session (11am – 12.30pm and 1.15pm – 3pm) will be led by the Institute of Physics and will explore some short experiments using everyday things you can find at home. This will be a drop-in session, so there is no need to book, and the suggested donation is £3.

On the same day, you can channel your inner Leonardo by discovering how light works. These 45-minute workshops will allow young people to see their artwork come to life under UV lights. The workshops will be suitable for all ages, but children must be accompanied by an adult and young people will need to come dressed for mess. Attendees must pre-book through the Sunderland Culture website or the Museum shop, and there is a suggested donation of £3.

On Monday, April 15, young people and their families are invited to Horses, Horses, Horses! drop-in drawing sessions. Leonardo da Vinci made many drawings of horses during his artistic career, as preparation for his paintings and sculptures, and the Museum’s sessions will give young people the chance to enjoy a day of drawing horses, including magical unicorns and winged horses. The sessions are from 11am – 12.30pm and from 1.30pm to 3pm, with a suggested donation of £3.

Two days later, the Museum’s Science Buddies project will give young people the opportunity to work in teams to design their own catapults inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s war machines, and try them out in a testing zone. The catapult project sessions will take place on Wednesday, April 17, with sessions from 11am to 2.30pm. Tickets cost £4 per child, and adults do not require a ticket. The activity is suitable for children over five years of age, and no more than two adults per child will be admitted.

Later the same week, on Friday, April 12, young people will be able to make their own Leonardo Da Vinci-inspired inventions with the help of the Little Inventors team and a team of volunteer makers. There are two sessions, one from 11am to 12.30 and the other from 1.30pm to 3pm.

There are also Little Inventors sessions on Monday, April 8 and Wednesday, April 10 (drop in sessions 11am – 12.30pm and 12.30pm to 3pm).

There is no need to book for the sessions, though a donation of £3 would be welcome. All inventions drawn, created and built will be showcased on the Little Inventors website: www.littleinventors.org

The Amazing Inventions Trail, which has been part of the exhibition since it opened in February, will continue throughout the Easter holidays. Young people and families can follow the trail to discover amazing inventions made in Sunderland and beyond. Find the clues and collect the answers to claim a prize.

Trails cost £2.50 per entry and are available to buy from the Museum shop.

Families are welcome to visit the exhibition before or after the activity for an additional £2.50 per person aged 16 and over. Tickets are available from the Museum shop or online.

The popular annual Dino Egg Hunt will also be continuing throughout the Easter break. These are held during Museum opening hours and give families the chance to learn more about dinosaurs while finding eggs hidden around the Museum. Buy your trail from museum reception, £2.50 per entry, and each entry receives a themed prize.

Jo Cunningham, Exhibitions, Collections and Archive Manager at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, said: “We’re delighted at the huge numbers of visitors who have so far been to see our incredible Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition, and realise the Easter holidays provide the perfect opportunity for families to come along and see the exhibition.

“So our complementary activities and sessions are aimed at young people – I’m sure they will be inspired by the genius of Leonardo, as so many adults have been when looking at his drawings.”

Following the exhibitions at the 12 venues the drawings will be brought together to form part of an exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, the largest exhibition of Leonardo’s work in more than 65 years. A selection of 80 drawings will then travel to The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse in November, the largest group of Leonardo’s works ever shown in Scotland. Fewer than 20 paintings by Leonardo survive, and nothing in sculpture or architecture. But Leonardo hoarded thousands of his drawings and dozens of notebooks, many of which have been passed down through succeeding centuries.

The Royal Collection holds the greatest collection of Leonardo’s drawings in existence, housed in the Print Room at Windsor Castle. Because they have been protected from light, fire and flood, they are in almost pristine condition.

Tickets for Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, costing £2.50, can be pre-booked online by visiting www.sunderlandculture.org.uk or at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens’ reception during opening hours. Entry for under-16s is free, but they will need a ticket.

For information and updates on the supporting activities and events, log on to Sunderland Culture’s website or check social media using the hashtags #SunderlandLeo and #Leonardo500.

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