Thinking 3D: Leonardo to the present

About the exhibition

For centuries, artists and scientists have wrestled with how to convey three-dimensional objects on the page. Using some of the Bodleian Libraries’ finest books, manuscripts, prints and drawings, Thinking 3D tells the story of the development of three-dimensional communication over the last 500 years.

The exhibition shows how new techniques, developed from the Renaissance onwards, revolutionized the way that ideas in the fields of anatomy, architecture, astronomy and geometry were relayed and ultimately how this has influenced how we perceive the world today.

Timed to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the exhibition shows how Leonardo and his contemporaries made great strides in the realistic depiction of 3D forms. Thinking 3D explores technological advances up to the present day including 3D modelling, photography and stereoscopy; and also highlights the works of modern practitioners and researchers in Oxford.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a range of other exhibitions and events across Oxford in 2019 as part of the Thinking 3D research project.


Listen to Bodleian podcasts discussing and exploring the exhibition.


The Treasury, Weston Library, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BG

 Wheelchair access

The Weston Library is wheelchair accessible.


Admission free.

 Opening times

Monday to Saturday - 10am-5pm

Sunday - 11am-5pm

 The curators

  • Daryl Green, Librarian at Magdalen College, Oxford
  • Dr Laura Moretti, Senior Lecturer in Art History, University of St Andrews

Thinking 3D explores how art, technology and science have influenced each other over the centuries, allowing three-dimensional concepts and observations to be shared from the mind of the author to the mind of the reader, and dramatically expanding our understanding of the world around us.

- Daryl Green and Dr Laura Moretti, co-curators of Thinking 3D -

Related events


Thinking 3D exhibition in Oxford

3D Thinking and the Digital Takeover

  16 October 2019

This talk will explore how the design process in architecture is being influenced by the tools that we use to develop our designs, opening up new possibilities. Through a series of Wilkinson Eyre’s projects, it will be seen how the process of design, and therefore thought, is changing. Architects who learnt their skills drawing by hand now work with young colleagues who seldom hand draw. The latter will lead the way in digitally enabled architecture of the future which will be based on better analysis and data sets, but will the artistry remain?

Read more


Gifts & books

flourish horizontal


This is Leonardo da Vinci


This is Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawings


Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawings

Leonardo da Vinci: A Closer Look


Leonardo da Vinci: A Closer Look

Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist


Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist


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