In the not-so-distant past, the area off to the side of The Venetian’s lobby was home to the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, a partnership between the hotel, the Guggenheim in New York and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Like many cultural investments that make their way to Las Vegas with the best of intentions, the Guggenheim didn’t last too long. It shuttered in 2008 after just seven years.
That space lay dormant for most of the next four years until the May unveiling of Da Vinci—The Genius (“Father of Invention”), a full-scale exhibit that brings to life many of the Renaissance master’s inventions, and coincided with the resort’s summerlong Carnevale celebration. Culled from notebooks and brought to life in three dimensions, the inventions prefigure many of the modern conveniences we take for granted. Taken out of context, it’s easy to take the reproductions for granted as well, before you realize that da Vinci conceptualized these inventions nearly 500 years ago.
He’s also responsible for two of the most famous paintings in art history, Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, both of which are presented with supplemental material that sheds new light on the masterworks. It’s fascinating to see what the original palette of Mona Lisa looked like before age dulled many of her vibrant colors. Art fans will geek out at the 360-degree, life-size replica of that painting, while casual museumgoers will most certainly find themselves in awe of a man who was so ahead of his time it took hundreds of years for the rest of us to catch up.
You’ll find other master minds throughout these pages, from chef Jean Paul Labadie (Q&A), who recently took over the stoves at Todd English P.U.B., to Craig Jackson (“Get Your Motor Running”), chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, whose huge annual collector car event at Mandalay Bay is one of the highlights of many an auto aficionado’s year.