Renaissance Inventors & Inventions

St. Peter Museum of Arts & Science

Renaissance Inventors and Inventions

Many things people have today had not been invented yet during the Renaissance. Look back and learn about several inventors and their inventions that changed the world! See sketches and some of the very first prototypes on display at the St. Peter Museum of Arts and Science.

St. Peter Museum of Arts & Science

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Sir John Harington

John Harington invented the flush toilet in 1596. He came up with the idea in illustrations. Then he installed one into his godmother's, Queen Elizabeth I, house. Another was installed into his house. The toilet consisted of a knob on a chain that was pulled and the water released into a bowl below. The bowl below had to be cleaned often. Then, Harington published a book to explain the flush toilet. Many people mocked John, so he gave up on his invention. There were no flushing toilets until 200 years later.

Johannes Gutenberg

Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1455. Before the printing press all books were written out by hand. Gutenberg's invention made it so books could be printed faster and cheaper. Then more people read, because there were more books. The printing press was made of wooden or metal letters that were removable. Ink was rolled over the letters which were raised on a surface. Then the letters were pressed on a sheet of paper. The first book printed was Gutenberg's Bible. Many printing presses popped up all over the country. So Johannes Gutenberg never made much money.


Galileo invented the astronomical telescope. With it he could see farther into space then anyone ever could before. He observed Jupiter's moons with the telescope. He saw that the moons revolved around the planet. This helped him confirm that the Earth was not the center of the universe, but that the sun was. This caused an uproar with the Church and many people did not like Galileo. But his invention changed the world.

Leonardo da Vinci

Many people know Leonardo da Vinci as an artist, but he was also an inventor. He came up with the idea and made sketches for flying machines, war weapons, and undersea boats. He was way ahead of his time. Not until centuries later was there the technology to build his inventions. Some of his inventions were the helicopter, parachute, submarine, scuba gear, armored cars, giant crossbows, and the triple barrel canon.