Math is fascinating and fun, but not everyone agrees. A new Museum of Math, nicknamed MoMath, has just opened in New York. Can it do anything for the image that Math suffers from?
If you are a programmer then you have to work with mathematical thought at some level, even if you find the details of algebra and so on difficult and tedious, so a new museum of mathematics should be welcome news.
However, you might pause for a moment and consider how important math is and how few math museums there are. A Google search reveals a math gallery within the London Science Museum and that's about it. We might have used the headline - "Only Math Museum Opens In NY" - but surely there must be others?
Over 22 million dollars was raised in support of the museum and the building leased for the project has 20,000 square feet over three floors.
Of course, you can't expect MoMath to put equations to center stage. This is not the modern way - museums are entertainments and MoMath doesn't disappoint. You can see some of its 40 interactive exhibits in the following video:
You might have noticed how many of the "math" exhibits could be regarded as computing exhibits and yet there doesn't seem much that directs the visitor towards the math of computing. In many ways, computers are the ideal way to make math seem approachable.
Another notable highlight are the pentagonal sinks in the bathrooms!
Being realistic it is unlikely that the museum and its fun exhibits will communicate much about math to the innocent visitor. Math is undeniably a subject about deep, and often detailed, thinking and such an activity doesn't naturally lead on to the sort of sideshow activities in MoMath. However, it's more about enthusiasm for the subject and generating the right feelings about math in those who have no idea what it is about. Will they have any better idea what it is about after a visit to MoMath? Probably not but they might feel more positive toward it.