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Chicago Humanities Festival: Walter Isaacson’s “Leonardo da Vinci”

October 29, 2017
Rubloff Auditorium
$35 students and teachers, $37 Chicago Humanities Festival members, $40 general admission

Standing at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, Leonardo da Vinci might have been history’s most creative genius. Best-selling biographer Walter Isaacson comes to the Chicago Humanities Festival to discuss his magisterial new biography, which shows a wide-ranging da Vinci—he painted the Mona Lisa and explored the math of optics—at ease with being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, easily distracted, and, at times, heretical. Isaacson shows how da Vinci’s creativity was based on skills we can improve in ourselves: passionate curiosity, a willingness to question, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy.

Ticket purchase includes a copy of Leonardo da Vinci.

A book signing will follow this program.

This program recognizes John McCarter who received our Humanist of the Year Award in 2016 and is presented in partnership with the Chicago Humanities Festival.

*Ticketholders for this event may enter the museum with their event ticket beginning at 1:30. To enter earlier, please purchase a separate museum admission ticket.

Find more Chicago Humanities Festival programs hosted at the Art Institute of Chicago. 

About the Speaker

Walter Isaacson, University Professor of History at Tulane, has been CEO of the Aspen Institute, chairman of CNN, and editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Leonardo da Vinci, The Innovators, Steve Jobs, Einstein: His Life and Universe, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, and Kissinger: A Biography, as well as the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made.

To request an accessibility accommodation for an Art Institute program, please call (312) 443-3680 or send an e-mail to as far in advance as possible. 

Please see the museum’s Accessibility page for more information. 

Walter Isaacson. Photo by Patrice Gilbert.