Libraries and Archives

Libraries and Archives

Based on over 300 sources, it has been possible to reconstruct Leonardo's "Ideal Library", which contained manuscripts and printed books that he mentions in several lists. He frequented the Libraries of Santo Spirito and of San Marco. Nowadays the documents on Leonardo's life and family are conserved mainly in the Florence State Archive, in the Opera del Duomo Archive.

  • Noteworthy among its vast collection of documents are: the certificate of Leonardo's birth and baptism, the notarial deeds drawn up by his father Ser Piero, a notary, and those of the trial for sodomy., together with many papers related to the artistic activity of Leonardo.

  • The architect Michelozzo designed this elegant hall with its three naves on the commission of Cosimo the Elder in 1437. It is considered to be the first public library in Europe. Leonardo mentions it in the Codex Atlanticus (toward 1480) and in the Codex Arundel (ca. 1505).

  • Forming part of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit was not only the celebrated Basilica di Santo Spirito designed by Brunelleschi, but also a library with a significant collection of manuscripts. The church is decorated with many paintings by contemporaries of Leonardo who were greatly influenced by his work. Leonardo mentions the library in an annotation dating to around 1505 in the Codex Atlanticus.

  • Designed by Michelangelo, the Library contains the bibliographic materials collected by Cosimo the Elder and Lorenzo the Magnificent. One of the library's treasures is the Trattato di architettura civile e militare [Treatise on civil and military architecture] by Francesco di Giorgio Martini, with five autograph postils by Leonardo.

  • The Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (National Central Library of Florence) preserves the first detailed biography of Leonardo, attributed to the Anonymous Gaddiano, and other fundamental material for the knowledge of Leonardo and the Renaissance. On the façade is a series of medallions dedicated to famous personages, including Leonardo da Vinci.

  • The collection of material pertaining to Leonardo da Vinci in the Biblioteca Riccardiana owes its origins to a member of the family – Riccardo Romolo Riccardi – who in 1659 acquired the imposing Palazzo di Via Larga (now the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in via Cavour) from the Medici family. In the collection, which comprises valuable manuscripts and autograph works by Petrarch, Boccaccio, Savonarola and many illustrious humanists, there are various references to Leonardo.

  • The Museo Galileo has a collection of original scientific instruments dating to the period of Leonardo da Vinci, a complete collection of the artist’s codices in facsimile, as well as an ample collection of bibliographic material on his work. The institute is also the seat of the Commissione vinciana and has supported the realization of numerous events designed to explore and celebrate the genius of Leonardo and his role in technological progress over the past five centuries.