Mostra di Leonardo with kids: all you need to know about one of Rome’s most child friendly museums

by marta

All you need to know to visit Mostra di Leonardo in Rome (Leonardo Exhibition), a fantastic permanent exhibition about the genius of Leonardo da Vinci.

The permanent exhibition ‘Mostra di Leonardo’ at Palazzo della Cancelleria is an interesting and beautiful small museum dedicated to the genius of Leonardo da Vinci.

Sculpture of Leonardo's face with his drawings in the background
Leonardo da vinci, one of the greatest mind in the humanity / Depositphotos

Hosted in a historical palazzo, this is a compact museum showcasing machines, drawings and creations by Leonardo and is a great place to visit in Rome on a rainy afternoon.

The museum is suitable for all ages and it is exceptionally good for children.

Many of the exhibits are interactive, there is a fun corner for kids to try their hands at recreating Leonardo’s bridge and, lately, there is also a fun family activity connected to the visit to the museum.

The Leonardo Exhibition is one of our favorite museums in Rome for kids: this is all you need to know to plan a visit.

Tip! If you are planning a family trip to Rome, make sure you also check out our complete family guide to visiting Rome with children.

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Museo Mostra di Leonardo Exhibition: arrival and tickets

Mostra di Leonardo is a small museum in a historical Rome palazzo.

The main ticket office and souvenir shop is at street level but the exhibition is one floor down, with you reach with a staircase.

I forgot to check if there was a lift (sorry!) however, the space in the museum is not large so I recommend you leave the stroller at home or at the ticket counter, should you be visiting with a baby or toddler.

Tickets can be bough on the day or, preferably, in advance. There are 3 option:

Entry ticket – to visit at your own pace

Guided Tour (family-friendly) – a pricier option if you want to visit with a private guide (several languages available)

Entry ticket + family treasure hunt game – a really fun way to visit the museum and discover Rome with an interactive treasure hunt game for the whole family!

The museums develops over a few underground rooms, well lit and kept cool by air conditioning in summer.

The space is not huge, perfect to be entertaining yet not overwhelming, and it is interesting in its own right: read below the info about the rooms to see why!

What to see and do at Mostra di Leonardo Exhibition at Palazzo della Cancelleria

The museum showcases several aspects of Leonardo’s work.

See and operate Leonardo’s machines

The first things your eyes will be drawn to are the big Leonardo machines. There are several in the museums and they are spectacular.

Leonardo was interested in physics and mechanics but he was also an incredible artists: the result is that his machines are not only awesome and mind-boggling creative; they are also very beautiful and you can admire them even just for their sheer aesthetic values!

The machines you see in this museum are life size replicas of those by Leonardo and, most of them, are suitable to be operated by visitors.

While some of them are off limits, many offer the option to touch their materials, lift levers, turn bolts and they are accompanies by drawings that show how the idea went from theory, to technical drawing to reality.

The machines had different uses: some were for war, some were for flying and some where for pursuits such as walking on water!

The most impressive machines tend to be the bigger ones however, do not miss the last room with smaller mechanisms.

the smaller mechanism, which kids can operate, are at the core of the functioning of the bigger machines and are those that really showcase the technical genius of Leonardo.

Walk into the 360 degrees mirror room

An experience you should not miss when visiting this museum is the 360 degrees mirror room.

You enter this room via a normal wooden door and inside, you find yourself in a space completely surrounded by mirrors – you know those all around mirrors that you see in makeover shows? That’ exactly what this is!

Walking in and seeing yourself in your entirety is great fun at all ages but super for kids. My two came here for the first time when they were toddlers and couldn’t get enough of this room and even when we came back when they were in mid-primary school, this room was a huge hit!

Try your hand at making Leonardo’s suspended bridge

One of Leonardo’s many incredible inventions if his suspended bridge, which holds itself up in a way that seems to defy gravity.

The Exhibition has a special corner devoted to this bridge and a table for kids with an invite to try their hands at making it: all the pieces are provided and there are photos of the passages needed and of the real thing and it is great fun to try!

It is like solving a giant puzzle but let me warn you: it is not as easy as it may seem! This was one of the highlights for our kids but it took us quite a while, which was actually great as it helped showcase how clever Leonardo really was.

Admire Leonardo’s drawings and the holograms of his inventions

The exhibition showcases many of Leonardo’s drawings that are interesting for older kids and curious adults and it also has holograms, a unique way to showcase Leonardo’s inventions.

The holograms are 9, 3-d recreations of Leonardo’s machines created with a technology that makes them look like they are made of light and floating in space. This is an innovative and very powerful way to see the machines in action in a way that, to children, looks magical!

Stop on your tracks in the most surprising room in the museum

The museum is hosted in a historical palazzo that hides a secret. In one of the rooms, you suddenly find yourself in front of a pond of water that hides the underground ancient tomb of one go Julius Caesar’s lieutenants: Aulus Irtius!

The sudden appearance of the water is sure to stop on your tracks: the body of water is rather small but you walk around it on metal boards and treats you to an incredible view.

As well as the water, you see parts of the ancient tomb but also Leonardo’s machine to walk on water!

This is an incredible spot that is almost enough on its own to plan a visit.

Go on a family trasure hunt

The Leonardo Exhibition has recently launched a new activity for families with kids: a treasure hunt that hs you discover parts of Rome as well as the museum.

The treasure hunt starts at the main ticket area, where you get an iPad and instructions.

Following the clues, you will be lead on a treasure hunt around the piazzas and streets near the museum and you will then be lead back inside the exhibition, where you will finish your tour.

The treasure hunt is interactive and makes the most of the location of the museum which is just beside Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona, two of the most beautiful squares in Rome.

You can find info and prices about the treasure hunt here.

Leonardo Exhibition address and how to get there

The Leonardo Exhibition is in Piazza della Cancelleria, 1 – 00186 Rome.

The closest bus stops are on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and are served by buses 40, 46, 62, 64, 87.

The exhibition is very close to Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, Piazza Navona, Castel Sant’Angelo and Piazza Trilussa (Trastevere) all easy areas to explore on the same day as this visit.

Because of location and size, it is easy to include a stop here even in a short trip to Rome. Check out our itinerary for three days with kids in Rome to see how you can include it.

I hope you enjoyed this overview of the Leonardo Exhibition. If you are planning a family trip to Rome, don’t forget to also check out our list of 50 things to do in Rome with kids.

Safe travel planning!

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