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Ciao, Leonardo! $9 million jolt to local economy as more than 170,000 visit blockbuster exhibit at The Tech Museum of Innovation

Press Release Date 
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The four-month run of "Leonardo: 500 Years into the Future" ended January 25th, capping a world premier that mesmerized and edified audiences, and funneled nearly $9 million into the downtown economy. The exclusive showcase, which made its only United States stop at The Tech Museum, marked the second consecutive runaway success of a major museum exhibit. The Tech Museum scored earlier success in 2007 with its presentation of BODY WORLDS 2 & The Three Pound Gem, the world-renowned exhibit about human anatomy, physiology and health. "Leonardo was a unique, high-caliber exhibit that will positively impact the city's cultural and economic standing for some time to come," said Peter Friess, president of The Tech Museum. "With this exhibit, we've cemented The Tech Museum's reputation as a premier science and technology museum by bringing the ultimate innovator to Silicon Valley, the leader in world innovation." "Leonardo" had been scheduled to close January 4, but due to popular demand and an unprecedented number of school field trip visits, officials opted to lengthen its stay by three weeks. Tabulations show 170,118 people visited the hit show. In the four months since it opened, the exhibit generated significant financial dividends for a static downtown economy. According to projections by the San Jose Convention & Visitors Bureau, "Leonardo" pumped nearly $9 million into the city's economy through visitor spending at restaurants, hotels and retail outlets. "Leonardo" featured the most comprehensive exhibit of the innovative art, science and engineering works of Leonardo da Vinci and his contemporaries. It included more than 100 life-size and scale working models, hands-on interactive machines, multimedia presentations and two priceless works of art. The 24-foot-high, steel and fiberglass model of Leonardo's Sforza Horse stood outside The Tech Museum, where thousands gawked and snapped pictures of the icon. The museum partnered with the City, Redevelopment Agency and Convention & Visitors Bureau to bring "Leonardo" to the museum. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a frequent visitor to the exhibit, said the showcase was a perfect fit for the Valley. "I am delighted that so many people visited The Tech Museum of Innovation to explore the wonders that Leonardo envisioned so many years ago," Reed said. "This exhibit highlighted the intersection of science and art that drove innovations centuries ago, providing fascinating parallels for present-day Silicon Valley." Added San Jose Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Harry Mavrogenes: "I am pleased to learn the Leonardo Exhibit was a tremendous success, bringing another 170,000 people downtown to patronize the restaurants, hotels and bars. Congratulations to Dr. Peter Friess and his entire staff for the exhibit's extraordinary success." Dan Fenton, President and CEO of the San Jose Convention & Visitors Bureau, noted that the city's cultural profile was raised significantly because the exhibit's only United State showing was in San Jose. "We are proud of the fact that San Jose was its only stop in the U.S.," Fenton said. "The success of Leonardo demonstrates that San Jose is an ideal location for blockbuster events." The showcase was seen by a wide swath of visitors including scores of students, teachers, engineers, scientists and others including luminaries from prominent museums and tourism bureaus. Many praised the exhibit as an exemplary showcase that enlightened and dazzled. "On a recent visit to the Bay Area, I had the good fortune of visiting the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition," said George T. Neary, vice president of Cultural Tourism with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Without having to travel to Europe, I entered the fascinating world of Renaissance scientists and artists in downtown San Jose. It impressed me that San Jose mounted an exhibition of such magnitude and complexity. The Tech Museum in particular should be proud." An authority on Leonardo, Fritjof Capra, best-selling author of The Science of Leonardo, said the exhibit was exceedingly well produced and executed. "Models of Leonardo's famous machines have often been exhibited in museums around the world, but never before has there been such a comprehensive and in-depth homage to the great Genius of the Renaissance" Capra said. "I thoroughly enjoyed exploring it during two visits and want to convey my heart-felt admiration to the curators of The Tech Museum for the high quality of this superb exhibition." Friess expects to continue the museum's positive momentum with the much-anticipated opening of a brand new permanent gallery in June. The Tech Awards Gallery will feature the compelling stories of the innovators around the globe who use their pioneering science and technology work to improve our world. In April, the museum hosts The 22nd annual Tech Challenge, a signature program of the museum that introduces and reinforces the scientific process with a hands-on project geared to solve a real world problem. This year's challenge: "Explore the Volcano!" Students must design a flying device to transport a sensor to the top of a volcano. About The Tech Museum of Innovation The Tech Museum of Innovation, which celebrates its 10th anniversary at its current downtown location, is a hands-on technology and science museum for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Tech Museum - located in the Capital of Silicon Valley - is a non-profit educational resource established to engage people in exploring and experiencing technologies affecting their lives. Through educational programs, the annual Tech Challenge team competition for youth, and the internationally recognized Tech Awards, presented by Applied Materials, Inc. The Tech Museum of Innovation celebrates the present and encourages the development of innovative ideas for a more promising future. For more information about The Tech Museum of Innovation, visit Contact: Roqua Montez Senior Manager Public Relations (408) 795-6225