The Da Vinci Experience is an immersive event that showcases Leonardo Da Vinci’s art. In 2021 it takes place in Metro Vancouver at Tsawwassen Mills.
Da Vinci Experience in Vancouver
The Da Vinci Experience is a special art exposition. Its Canadian premiere is in Vancouver (or actually Tsawwassen to be exact). It’s a unique event that celebrates Leonardo Da Vinci and his art, inventions and other works.
The exhibition offers an immersive experience with four different rooms. Guests are first introduced to Da Vinci’s biography and talents. Replicas of machines built by the inventor are featured in one room. There is also a separate room showcasing the Last Supper.
One of the highlights of the event is a 4,000 square-foot space that features large projections of Da Vinci’s work on the walls and floor. Towards the end of the event, COVID-regulations permitting, guests also get to use an Oculus headset to experience Da Vinci’s innovations in an immersive and modern virtual reality manner.
The Italian genius conceptualized a number of inventions, including a flying machine. Some of his inventions were only on paper. At the Da Vinci Experience you can see real-life replications of some of his works. Using virtual reality technology, you can also have a look inside the artist’s office.
For tickets and full details visit the official Da Vinci Experience website.
When and Where is the Exhibition?
The Da Vinci Experience takes place from late June in 2021 until early 2022. The final day of the exhibition was going to be January 10th, but it was extended until March 13th. It happens at the Tsawwassen Mills Mall.
The shopping centre’s address is 5000 Canoe Pass Way in Delta. It’s about a 5-minute drive from the BC Ferries’ Tsawwassen Terminal which connects the Lower Mainland with Vancouver Island.
Hours of operation for the event are Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am until 6:30 pm. On Sundays the hours are from 11:00 am until 6:30 pm. Tickets are sold every half hour during those times.
Tsawwassen Mills is a big place. The exhibition takes place by Entrance #3 which is at the southwest corner of the mall (at the far end if coming from the Vancouver direction). The entrance to the Da Vinci Experience is between the Winners and Marshalls stores.
The shopping mall is large and home to many outlet stores as well as several different places to eat. The Big Splash Water Slide Park is also nearby and can make for a fun day trip in the summer.
How Much Does the Da Vince Experience Cost?
As of June, 2021, admission rates for the Da Vinci Experience are below. As you’ll see, prices on weekends cost a couple of dollars more than on weekdays. In addition to the prices listed, there are extra ticketing fees. Taxes are extra.
Weekday Prices (Monday to Thursday)
- Adults (ages 16 and older) – $25.99
- Seniors (ages 65 and older) – $23.99 (from opening until 4:30 pm)
- Children (ages 4 to 15) – $21.99
- Little kids (ages 3 and under) – 1 free per paying adult
- Family Passes (for up to 2 adults & 2 children) – $77.99
- Additional Children (above 2 per family) – $18.99 (up to a maximum of 2)
Weekend Prices (Friday, Saturday & Sunday)
- Adults (ages 16 and older) – $27.99
- Children (ages 4 to 15) – $23.99
- Family Passes (for up to 2 adults & 2 children) – $89.99
- Additional Children (above 2 per family) – $20.99 (up to a maximum of 2)
Note: Tickets are non-refundable. With 48 hours’ notice and a $3 rescheduling fee, their dates can be changed, however, subject to availability.
For tickets and full details visit the official Da Vinci Experience website.
What to Expect at the Da Vinci Experience
The entrance to the Da Vinci Experience looks like a store at the Tsawwassen Mills outlet mall. It’s not huge or fancy. It’s actually kind of easy to miss. Beyond the entrance, however, there are all sorts of amazing things to see.
There are four main rooms at the Da Vinci Experience, apart from the entrance at the beginning and the gift shop area at the end. Expect it to take an hour or more to see everything from start to finish, assuming you read all the information.
The first room is a big one full of replicas of Leonardo Da Vinci’s art and inventions. Next is a smaller room with low lighting where you’ll find a copy of the artist’s Last Supper painting. The third room is a large one where scenes of Da Vinci’s work are projected on the walls. At the end of the exhibition is a bright open area with seats where you can put on special goggles and enjoy a virtual reality experience. Below we describe each area in detail.
Room One – The Art and Inventions
The first room at the exhibition is a large, modern one with white walls and a high ceiling. It has replicas of some of Da Vinci’s most famous paintings on the walls as well as displays with written information about the artist. Spread out around the middle of the room are reproductions of several of Da Vinci’s inventions. Some even hang from the ceiling.
Da Vinci’s Art
The exhibition doesn’t have any of Leonardo Da Vinci’s original art. All the pieces are reproductions. They are still, however, impressive to look at and admire.
In the first gallery-style room you’ll see copies of the Virgin on the Rocks, Annunciation, the Portrait of Ginevra de Benci, Vitruvian Man, The Baptism of Christ, and Saint John the Baptist. Beside work of art is a detailed description of the piece with information about its background and interesting things to look for.
There is also a reproduction of the Mona Lisa, which you can actually walk inside the frame and peer out from. It’s a clever exhibit and makes for some cool photo opportunities!
Da Vinci’s Inventions
Also in this first room are life-sized models of some of Da Vinci’s inventions. There are flying contraptions, a scuba-diving suit and other amazing creations that wouldn’t become anywhere close to reality for hundreds of years after the Italian genius’s death.
The invention displays are especially interesting because Leonardo Da Vinci never actually built several of them, or at least, in most cases, original versions no longer exist today. What you see are models constructed according to the inventor’s designs on paper. Understandably, seeing them in real-life models is even more interesting than copies of their sketches!
Note: The exhibition is a “hands-off” kind of experience. The models aren’t for touching.
Da Vinci Art and Inventions Video
To give you a really good idea of what the first room looks like, check out the following video. In it you’ll see the art on the walls as well as the inventions both standing on the floor and hung from the ceiling. As you’ll notice, the displays are all nicely spread out. The written information about everything is fascinating (but to see that you’ll have to visit the place in person).
Room Two – The Last Supper
After leaving the main gallery with all the art and inventions, you go through an open door into a fairly dark room. Inside, on a lit-up wall, is a replica of Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting. Along with the Mona Lisa, this painting is one of the most recognizable ones in the world! Next to the painting there is also fascinating and detailed information about the piece.
In this second room you’ll learn about the painting including who commissioned it and how it was almost destroyed in a 20th century war.
Leonardo Da Vinci completed the original painting in the 1490s (so around the time that Christopher Columbus arrived in America). Today its home is the Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan Italy.
The real Last Supper painting is 7.0 metres by 8.8 metres in size, or slightly more than 23 feet by 29 feet, so significantly larger than what you’ll see at Tsawwassen Mills. The Vancouver version, however, is still impressive, as is the background information provided.
The Last Supper Video
The following video shows you what the second gallery room looks like at the Da Vinci Experience. The second main room is the one that has the reproduction of Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous Last Supper painting which features Jesus Christ and his disciples shortly before his arrest and crucifixion.
As you’ll see in the video, after you leave the first gallery (where you saw other copies of Da Vinci’s art and inventions) you enter a fairly dark room. On one of its wall is a scaled-down version of the Last Supper as well as written information about the masterpiece. If you’re lucky, there might even be an interpreter who can point out things on the painting.
Room Three – The Multimedia Experience
The third exhibit room at the Da Vinci Experience is a large dark room. Inside there are a few places to sit, although most people stand or wander around. Projected on all the walls are moving images of Leonardo Da Vinci’s art. Classical music plays in the background.
You can spend 15 or more minutes in this room. The images are constantly changing. There isn’t any written or audio information – just beautiful imagery.
Art you’ll see projected on the walls in this room include the Madonna of the Carnation, Madonna Litta, Virgin of the Rocks, the Mona Lisa, the Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk and others.
Room Four – Da Vinci in Virtual Reality
Just before you exit the exhibition completely, as you leave the large dark room with the multimedia projections, you’ll find a small open area with rows of white chairs. The room is very bright compared to what you’ve just come from. This is where you get to experience Da Vinci’s world in virtual reality.
In this final exhibit room an attendant invites guests to have a seat and put on a pair of disinfected goggles. To get the focus just right, you have to move the goggles up and down a bit. Moments later the virtual reality show begins.
During this part of the experience you’ll find yourself in Leonardo’s workshop. Beside his desk is the Mona Lisa. You can look up, down and all around. It feels like you’re really in the room.
The virtual reality experience takes you to various places where you’ll see Da Vinci’s inventions in action, including some of his war machines. Between each new segment you return to Leonardo’s workshop (so don’t think the show is finished the first time you re-see the opening scene). Expect to spend at least 5 minutes, or more, enjoying the 360-degree views.
Who Was Da Vinci?
Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the most famous artists the world has ever known. He’s the Italian guy who painted the Mona Lisa. More than just a painter, he was a sculptor, architect, engineer and inventor. He was a genius who lived 500 years ago but was way ahead of his time.
Da Vinci lived from 1452 until 1519, which was during the Renaissance. Some of his works include the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, Annunciation, Vitruvian Man and Salvator Mundi. The last of these got over $450 million US at an auction in 2017, making it the most expensive painting ever purchased at an auction at that time.
Leonardo Da Vinci designed flying contraptions and other inventions years before such things could ever actually be built. His designs and art are what you’ll see at the Da Vinci Experience.
Looking for authentic West Coast art? To learn about Marcela Strasdas and her paintings visit the website marcelastrasdas.com.
How Does Da Vinci Compare with Van Gogh?
In some ways the Da Vinci Experience is similar to Imagine Van Gogh, the other major art exhibition happening in Vancouver (from March until early September of 2021). Both are art shows featuring larger-than-life projections of the works of world-famous artists from the past.
Whereas Imagine Van Gogh is all about giant images and immersing its audience in the art, the Da Vinci Experience includes different kinds of exhibits and forms of media. Also, whereas Van Gogh was an artist (who both drew and painted), Da Vinci was also a scientist and inventor.
At The Da Vinci Experience, there is more than just art. The two events are very different. Both, however, are highly recommended.
Other differences between Van Gogh and Da Vinci include the styles of their art and the periods when they lived. Van Gogh was a Post-Impressionist painter who lived from 1853 until 1890, so over 350 years after the Italian master.
The Dutch painter’s art is beautiful, but more artistic with its brush strokes and colours than life-like. Da Vinci, on the other hand, was very precise with his dimensions, shadows and other details. Of the two, Da Vinci’s paintings look more real-to-life.
TIP: If you like art, then also be sure to check out the Art Downtown program. On select days in the summer local artists set up their art and painting easels in downtown Vancouver.
For tickets and more information about the event, visit the Da Vinci Experience website.
To learn about other exhibitions at the same venue, see our article about Sensea Immersive at Tsawwassen Mills.
Other articles that may be of interest include:
- Imagine Van Gogh Exhibition
- Art Downtown Vancouver
- Festivals and Events
- Vancouver Shows and Entertainment
- History and Culture
- Rainy Day Activities