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August 27, 2014

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Tom Zaller has brought one of history’s greatest masterminds to the Strip


Imagine Exhibitions

Tom Zaller at “Da Vinci: the Genius — an Inspirational Exhibition” at the Venetian.

Da Vinci Exhibit

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Tom Zaller, new manager of the Mob Attraction Las Vegas at the Tropicana, inside the museum on Thursday, March 1, 2012.

While Robin Leach takes his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, many of our Strip and Las Vegas personalities have stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. Our thanks to them all. We continue today with Imagine Exhibitions’ Tom Zaller, who masterminded the extraordinary showcase of “Da Vinci: the Genius -- an Inspirational Exhibit” at the Venetian (he also is the new manager of the Mob Attraction at the Tropicana).

The scuba suit, the military tank and the automobile are all thought of as modern-day inventions. What if I told you that more than 500 years ago, a man -- a genius -- designed the prototypes for all of these ideas?

His name was Leonardo da Vinci, and we at Imagine Exhibitions are happy to bring to Las Vegas “Da Vinci: the Genius -- an Inspirational Exhibit,” the most comprehensive exploration of his amazing mind and works, for a limited engagement at the Venetian.

Da Vinci’s genius has been elusive to the world throughout history -- he made sure of that. His codices (notebooks, the foundation of his greatest innovations) were written in mirror image and an ancient Florentine dialect with intentional errors, what we call “The Poor Man’s Patent.”

Over 10 years, Grande Exhibitions, Australia and their research partners decoded da Vinci’s codices, bringing his inventions to life with full-scale, handcrafted models, and deciphered the secrets of da Vinci’s most famous works. By creating this exhibition, da Vinci is no longer a mystery.

One area of life-size inventions, the Father of Flight, exemplifies how ahead of his time da Vinci truly was. Long before the Wright Brothers took flight, while most people of the Renaissance period only dreamed of humans soaring through the air, da Vinci actually considered the science and physics. “Da Vinci: the Genius” brings his half-century-old designs to life.

And although da Vinci was a known pacifist, the wealth of Italy’s city-states saw worth in using his mind to benefit the military. Showcased in the exhibition’s Military Engineering area, da Vinci created the archetype for multi-barreled machine guns, armored tanks and more.

“Da Vinci: the Genius” also features a compelling and eye-opening exhibit of recently discovered secrets about the most mysterious and widely known painting of all time: the “Mona Lisa.” We have been treated to work with French scientist and examiner of fine art Pascal Cotte, who was granted permission by the Louvre to remove the “Mona Lisa” from its frame to analyze with his ultra-high-definition camera.

Cotte’s photos provide unprecedented insight, including 25 revelations that are showcased in the exhibit, as well as reveal the original appearance when da Vinci painted it. All I’ll say is that the “Mona Lisa” has transformed a great deal over the past 500 years.

Cotte’s camera also created the world’s best replica of the “Mona Lisa,” suspended in the middle of the Secrets of Mona Lisa exhibit so patrons not only enjoy the beauty of the painting, but also see several marks, cracks and stamps made from kings and other notables throughout history on the back of the painting -- which is not available at the Louvre!

The exhibition also features several interactive presentations of da Vinci’s artwork, including “Vitruvian Man,” “The Last Supper,” “Sforza Horse” and much more.

We’re excited to bring “Da Vinci: the Genius” to Las Vegas and are confident that regardless of one’s experience (or lack thereof) with art and history, people from all walks of life will leave with a much greater understanding of da Vinci -- the man who revolutionized the world hundreds of years ago -- and have fun!

“Da Vinci: the Genius” is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Oct. 15 at the Venetian. Tickets start at $18 and are available at Imagine Exhibitions Gallery off the Venetian lobby, the Venetian box office and

Our thanks to Tom for bringing the genius of da Vinci to the Strip. Be sure to check out our other guest column today from Angela Stabile, who oversees the sexy glamour girls of “X Burlesque” at the Flamingo. Join us again Thursday for Palace Station comedy king Louie Anderson, Jabbawockeez dancer Ben Chung and Las Vegas pop sensation Lex Rox on her way to stardom.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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