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The Man Who Brought Leonardo and Galileo Into the 21st Century

From the start, the multimedia exhibits were crowd pleasers. “Engineers of the Renaissance,” toured the world’s major cities, while one Leonardo show in Tokyo drew around a million people in three months, he said.

Mr. Galluzzi recently curated an exhibit of the Codex Leicester, Leonardo’s scientific writings, at the Uffizi Galleries. While he dismissed the knockoff exhibits of large-scale Leonardo machines now ubiquitous in Italian cities as commercial operations “done by people who couldn’t tell you when Leonardo was alive,” he conceded that the Uffizi show was rather, well, showy, with lots of scientific bells and whistles.

“An exhibit isn’t like reading a book; it has to be fun and create emotions,” he said. “Naturally, if along with the emotions we are able to transmit a concept or two, the game becomes more interesting.”

The director of the Uffizi, Eike Schmidt, described Mr. Galluzzi as the world’s most eminent scholar of Leonardo’s scientific writings, though Mr. Galluzzi admits his expertise does not extend to Leonardo’s artistic accomplishments. Authenticating paintings is “not my vocation,” he said. But he has collaborated with investigators trying to unmask the makers of fake copies of Sidereus Nuncius, Galileo’s observations on the cosmos.

For a man who preaches the digital gospel, he still pens his scholarly writings by hand, he said, a self-described “hyper-corrective” with an old-school approach to writing. Typing got in the way of reflection and meditation, he said. “One of my privileges is that I have secretaries who type up my handwritten notes,” he said, smiling.

After 36 years at the helm of the museum, Mr. Galluzzi is thinking about retirement. “I want to leave when I am still of sound mind and body,” to pursue independent research and study, he joked.

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