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Moving beyond Leonardo

ASU Emerge celebrates the legacy and potential of human inventiveness

Leonardo's Ornithopter design

This year’s Emerge is a celebration of human inventiveness to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci and all those devoted to exuberant, unconventional invention.

March 27, 2019

Arizona State University's Emerge, a festival of futures, interweaves art, science and technology to explore the future in evocative ways.

Emerge will showcase the many twists along the road to innovation: unbridled imagination, exquisite observation, epic and mundane failure, surprise and serendipity. Emerge will take visitors on wild rides through the past and spark new thinking about the future of invention through hands-on activities, performances, workshops, exhibits, lectures, experiments and interactive environments.  

This year’s Emerge is a celebration of human inventiveness to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci and all those devoted to exuberant, unconventional invention.

We wanted to honor Leonardo not only for his brilliant inventions but for his boundless curiosity, which led to many discoveries spanning science and art,” said Ed Finn, director of the Center for Science and the Imagination and Emerge co-director. “His life demonstrated how great ideas come from synthesizing many different kinds of information.” 

Since its inception in 2012, Emerge has pushed the envelope of performance, technology and critical thinking by building, sharing and experimenting with visions the future.

The event, taking place on Saturday, March 30 from noon to 8:30 p.m. at Old Main Lawn on the ASU Tempe campus, is free and open to the public.  

“We are all inventors and innovators and often just need a creative push to explore our potential. At Emerge this year, visitors will have the opportunity to play with the idea of invention and explore the myriad ways that invention changes and evolves over time,” said Emerge Director Cynthia Selin, an associate professor with the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the School of Sustainability.

Emerge will explore invention through four interrelated concepts: interpretation, innovation, inspiration and imagination. Activities and exhibits will be hosted on Old Main lawn in and surrounding large inflated dome structures, creating a unique festival environment. 

Jake Pinholster, associate dean for enterprise design and operations in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and Emerge co-director, describes the vision for the event: "We really wanted, in the spirit of invention, to create something impressive that appears to pop out of the ground overnight. The domes will create a unique environment, a cross between a moon base and a field of giant mushrooms."

ASU Emerge is sponsored by the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, the Center for Science and the Imagination, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, with support from Intel.

For more information on the event and to register your seat for one of our workshops visit

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