Math is a subject dreaded by many. A museum dedicated to math may seem counter-intuitive, but The New York Times has the story:

The reason that there haven’t been many math museums is that the enthusiasm the subject inspires is not easily communicated and not readily discovered. In the United States, where student math performance is far from stellar, it is easy to see why a compensatory straining at “fun” is more evident than a drive toward illumination.
To attract the uninitiated, a display must be sensuous, readily grasped and memorable. Yet the concepts invoked are often abstract, requiring reflection and explanation. How are these opposing needs to be reconciled? With widely varying results. When I visited the museum twice this week not every display was completed, but the exhibits covered a broad spectrum of achievement. Many on the higher end of that range should be celebrated; much on the lower should be scrutinized and brought up to grade level."

(*Thanks, the Mindy Weisberger who is not my cousin!*)

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The math exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science was always my favorite so I’m not necessarily sure why anyone would assume a math museum would be boring. Then again, I’m probably kind of a weird dude.

Yes, “Mathematica: A World of Numbers… And Beyond”. It was designed by the Eames (of chair fame). Really! They also did the “Powers of Ten” film you may have seen in school.

Unfortunately, from the article it sounds like this new math museum is far less content-heavy than Mathematica was and is just mostly fluff.

Powers of Ten. Still an amazing video, all these years later:

I loved watching the Möbius strip arrow curl around one side, one edge years before reading Flatland. And watching the mini-ping pong balls fall down and form a bell curve every time. Weird dudes unite!

So I guess this is where you go to celebrate PI day.

Field Trip! -HS Math Teacher

Why does a museum of math seem “counter-intuitive”? Mathematics is one of the pinnacle achievements of the human race, and not many people understand that it’s a living, vibrant field. The lack of math museums is what I find surprising.