(Also called "Monna Lisa" or "La Gioconda" in Italy)

To Do and Notice

Look at these two upside-down pictures of Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa 1

Now look at the same images right side up. (Turn your monitor upside-down if you don't believe us!)

Mona Lisa 2

What's Going On?

You probably recognized Mona Lisa right away--even upside-down. Two upside-down Monas may look strange (one perhaps stranger than the other), but turn them right-side-up and one looks normal, the other grotesque. Why the surprising difference?

Since an upside-down face is not a familiar point of view, you may not have noticed that one of these pictures has been altered. In the right-hand photo, Mona's eyes and mouth have been turned around. It's only when the photos are turned right-side-up, and the view is more familiar, that you notice the real distortion.

Do it Yourself

Since you are obviously using a computer to view this, you may have access to photo-processing software and image-capture hardware. Try to capture your own face and flip the eyes and mouth.

Mona Movie

The exhibit at the Exploratorium has the pictures mounted on rotatable disks. (Our version also displays pictures of Vanna White, but we didn't want to hassle the copyright issues...) We've been told that this effect is easier to see if the image rotates rather than viewing the fixed images above. If you'd prefer to see the picture of Mona rotate 180 degrees in a QuickTime or MPEG movie, click an icon below.


Our apologies to Leonardo da Vinci for the desecration of his masterpiece