There are plenty of museums throughout the country, but one that doesn’t exist anywhere in the United States is a math museum. Math enthusiastic Glen Whitney is looking to change that come 2012 when he’ll bring us the Museum of Mathematics, nicknamed MoMath, located in Manhattan on 11 East 26th Street.
Whitney, who has been a math professor as well as an employee at an investment firm where he used algorithms to determine where to put money, aims for this museum to be fun and invigorating. “There are all sorts of myths about mathematics out there,” Whitney explained what we all know to be true, “All these are cultural myths that we want to blow apart.”
With the use of colorful, engaging and interactive props, Whitney hopes the museum to be “a place where that spark can ignite… We want to expose the breadth and the beauty of mathematics,” he insists.
If the museum turns out to be anything like the traveling Math Midway that Whitney and his team built two years ago, it certainly holds some promise of making math… fun for all. The Math Midway, which looks more like a math carnival than a math class, features activities like riding on a square-wheeled tricycle, a universal wheel of chance, a mysterious harmonograph, function grinders and more.
Whitney’s desire to create this museum came from both his “lifetime love affair” with math and the news that Goudreau, the only other math museum in the country, had closed in 2006. There are plenty of science museums that cover math topics, but none that focus on math alone.
“I really felt that I found my calling,” Mr. Whitney said. “I don’t mean to be grandiose, but it was something that felt like it really fit with my lifetime of experiences and abilities and likes and so on.”
And others seem to be in support. The museum, thus far, has raised $22 million, including $2 million from Google.