Visiting the Museum of Mathematics, NYC

In June 2011, I mentioned that  Manhattan will be opening up a Museum of Mathematics (MoMath). On December 15, 2012, the museum opened it’s doors to the public for the first time to allow visitors to experience the 2 floor facility, filled with 30+ completely interactive exhibits. Located downtown on 26th street, the museum is pretty accessible by the subway, including the R train.

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Figure 1. The adorable and colorful entrance for MoMath .The handles are a “pi” symbol, but when you separate the doors one of the signs turns into a “tao” symbol (as pointed out by Kirsten).

Being a museum lover, I couldn’t pass the opportunity of seeing this museum before leaving NY for winter break. I had the pleasure of going with Scott and Kirsten (who absolutely adores math and its many forms), and I had tons of fun.

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Figure 2. Kirsten & Scott posing cutely in front of the String Theory exhibit piece by the stairs

Although geared for young children, the exhibits did a good job of having many interesting features that entertained me even though I am well above the age of a child, and math isn’t one of my favorite subjects.

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Figure 3. MoMath’s window display of their gift shop.

I want to go through some highlights of what we saw, however, I don’t want to ruin all the exhibits for you. Please go to the MoMath website for more information.

Museum Exhibit Highlights:

1) The Hyperhyperboloid

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Figure 4. The hyperboloid chair! You can spin it around and change the conformation of the strings.

This is one of the first things you see when you walk in and badge up into MoMath. I really love the way it looks!

2) The Square Wheeled Tricycle

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Figure 5. Scott on the tricycle going around a circular path!

This thing was so cool! Both Scott and Kirsten gave it a whirl! I wanted to try, but ended up chickening out because I have a fear of driving vehicles it seems. Interesting fact that Kirsten told me is that this thing is has one wheel is smaller making it impossible to fly off the track.

3) The Math Square

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Figure 6a., 6b. Information panel about Math Square and actual Math Square game in action.

The Math Square is a floor computer screen which projects different interactive games. At one point, the Math Square formed a giant dot under anyone standing on it and connected the dots with a line. In the image seen above, the Math Square provides a puzzle game where you have to move the red square to the target green square by standing behind it.

4) Musical Piece

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Figure 7a., 7b. A musical exhibit piece. When you touch 1 ball, you change the color of that ball and it plays a tune. This subsequently changes the colors and chords of the surrounding balls connected to it.

I cannot remember for the life of me the name of this piece, but it was definitely one of the more colorful and lively pieces. I could definitely see kids smacking this all day and having a great time.

5) 3D Tetris

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Figure 8. Scott and Kirsten trying to make a perfect cube with the 3D pillow pieces.

A simple concept, but really cute and comfy. I kind of want a set for my next apartment.

6) Enigma Cafe

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Figure 9. A small section of the downstairs floor is dedicated to workstations and puzzles for solving. The computer screens provide instructions, hints, and solutions if you get frustrated.

7) Tree of Life

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Figure 10a., 10b. Scott and Kirsten in tree form!

This had to be our most favorite part of the museum: THE TREE OF LIFE! Essentially, a camera captures a video image of you and creates factorials of yourself aka tiny versions of you branching out. There was a combine option, but it got too crowded to take a pic 😦

8) Tesseracts Magnet Wall

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Figure 11a., 11b., 11c. Scott and Kirsten playing around with tesseract magnets. Some were more traditional polygonal shapes, but there were also monkey, rabbit, and dino ones!

Arguably my favorite museum exhibit. I wanted to buy the magnets so badly! but 1) they didn’t have the dinosaur ones for sale (I can’t believe I don’t have a photo) 2) a set of monkeys is $35! Far too much for post holiday student budget. Plus its no fun to buy 1 magnet only because the fun in tesseracts is fitting them all together!

Conclusion:

I’m really glad I went! Most museums I attend are science and history ones, so it was nice to see a math museum for a change. I definitely learned a lot, and special thanks to Kirsten for helping me understand the concept behind many exhibits! Thanks to Scott to for the company! And thanks to both for rewarding my day full of math with a lil bit of science.

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Figure 12. A white blood cell and nerve cell to add to my Giant Microbes collection!

Hope you enjoyed this museum review! Please visit MoMath if you so happen to be in downtown NYC! It is the only math museum in the USA to date, so don’t miss out on this exclusive! Also, if you are interested in math or education, this is a great museum to volunteer at because it is completely interactive! This opens up great opportunity to talk with visitors and inform the masses!

[Note: I also want to mention, working at the Academy of Natural Sciences before, I know that interactive exhibits commonly are not fully working during the first couple of weeks of premiering. When we went on January 3rd, there were many features at MoMath that were being fixed due to maintenance  troubleshooting, or missing due to arrival delays. While upsetting that the museum is not “complete” yet, don’t let that be a negative reflection on MoMath since it happens to all interactive, children’s museums. Just take it as a sign to spend more time to appreciate each and every exhibit available at the time.]

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2 comments on “Visiting the Museum of Mathematics, NYC

  1. Moo Moo says:

    I want a hyperboloid chair in my house =) That looks fun

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