Leonardo: Experience a Masterpiece at The National Gallery

A is for Art: But not any old art. This is a Renaissance exhibition like no other, themed around a solitary – admittedly pretty epic – artwork, with not a single other painting in sight. Instead, state-of-the-art digital projections take centre-stage, transporting you into the mind of Leonardo not-DiCaprio as he completes his masterpiece, the moody, mountain-filled Virgin of the Rocks.

B is for Borrrrring: Which, to be honest, is likely the reaction this exhibition will incite in under-5s. On the plus side  it’s relatively small and totally immersive – albeit not massively interactive, if that makes any sense. Basically it’s like you’ve travelled back in time but there isn’t really much to do once you’re there, which makes it sound really shit but it also means there’s essentially nothing for little ones to destroy, which actually makes it a pretty good one to drag toddlers to.

C is for Chapel: The so-called Imagined Chapel is kind of the main event here, taking up two of the exhibition’s five galleries and housing the painting itself. Wander through a projected church of San Francesco Maggiore in Milan before entering the chapel of the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception and beholding the IRL Virgin of the Rocks in its original setting – an elaborate CGI altarpiece that dramatically transforms around it to demonstrate the various modifications it underwent during its life.

Tickets: standard adult admission costs £18 on weekdays and £20 on weekends. Under-18s go free.

Verdict: A refreshingly modern way of looking at something really bloody old, but not quite as epic or interactive as I was hoping. If you’re loopy for Leonardo then definitely do it (although be prepared for weird looks if you’re toting toddlers with you), but if you’re not then maybe don’t bother. 3/5

Until 12th January 2020


Babu meets the Virgin of the Rocks at the Leonardo: Experience a Masterpiece exhibition, The National Gallery.