Nestled in the bustling heart of Manhattan, New York City, you’ll find a truly unique and charming cultural gem – the National Museum of Mathematics, or MoMath, as it’s affectionately known.
Since welcoming its first visitors in 2012, MoMath has been delighting and inspiring people with its interactive exhibits and immersive experiences, all designed to reveal the beauty, creativity, and sheer excitement of mathematics.
MoMath’s mission goes beyond simply showcasing mathematical wonders; it also aims to challenge negative stereotypes about math and spark a passion for problem-solving in a new generation of mathematicians.
The National Museum of Mathematics, or MoMath, has its roots in the Goudreau Museum of Mathematics in Art and Science, which was in operation on Long Island from 1980 to 2006.
When the Goudreau Museum closed, a passionate group of mathematicians, educators, and business leaders, including Glen Whitney, a former hedge fund analyst, recognized the need to preserve and expand upon the concept of a museum dedicated to mathematics. Thus, the idea of MoMath was born.
After years of planning and fundraising, MoMath opened its doors to the public on December 15, 2012, in a two-story, 19,000-square-foot space located at 11 East 26th Street in Manhattan, New York City.
The museum was designed by Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership, and the exhibits were developed with input from a diverse group of mathematicians, educators, and designers.
Top attractions in the museum
The National Museum of Mathematics offers a range of popular permanent exhibits that captivate visitors by allowing them to interact with and explore various mathematical concepts. Here are some of the most well-loved installations:
- Square-Wheeled Trike: This exhibit features a tricycle with square wheels that visitors can actually ride. The unique track with a series of catenary curves enables a smooth ride, showcasing the connection between wheel shape and surface.
- Human Tree: Visitors can create a digital, fractal-like tree of themselves using a live camera feed and recursive image processing. This exhibit highlights the beauty of fractals and self-similarity in mathematics.
- Math Square: A large, interactive LED floor display that responds to visitors’ movements, Math Square features various mathematical games and patterns, demonstrating the power of collaboration and the beauty of mathematical visualization.
- Dynamic Wall: This colorful, kinetic sculpture showcases the concept of periodic motion. As visitors observe the wall, they can see different shapes and patterns emerge, illustrating the interplay of geometry and motion.
- Tessellation Station: Visitors can create their own tessellations, patterns formed by repeating shapes that fit together without gaps or overlaps, using magnetic tiles. This exhibit introduces the concepts of symmetry and transformation in a hands-on way.
- The Hyperboloid: This exhibit consists of a set of parallel straight lines that, when rotated, form a hyperboloid, a three-dimensional surface. Visitors can explore the fascinating connection between straight lines and curved surfaces.
- Harmony of the Spheres: Visitors can use a touch screen to explore the intricate relationship between music and mathematics by manipulating the variables of a diatonic musical scale and hearing the resulting harmonies.
These interactive exhibits, along with many others, engage visitors in the beauty and excitement of mathematics by offering hands-on experiences that cater to different interests and learning styles.
Hours and admission fees
Planning your visit to the National Museum of Mathematics is a breeze. While I can provide you with general information, it is always a good idea to visit MoMath’s official website for the most updated information on hours of operation, admission fees, ticket prices and any special events or temporary closures that may be happening during your visit.
Ideal age groups
The National Museum of Mathematics is designed to appeal to a wide range of age groups, making it an enjoyable experience for children, teenagers, and adults alike. The interactive exhibits and hands-on installations cater to different interests and learning styles, ensuring that there is something for everyone.
For younger children (ages 4-8), the museum offers exhibits that introduce basic mathematical concepts through engaging, hands-on activities. Kids will enjoy the colorful displays and tactile experiences, which can help instill an early appreciation for mathematics.
For older children and teenagers (ages 9-17), MoMath presents more advanced mathematical ideas and challenges in a fun and interactive way. These age groups can benefit from the museum’s educational programs, workshops, and special events tailored to their needs.
Adults will also find plenty to enjoy at MoMath, whether they are accompanying younger family members or visiting on their own. The museum provides a unique opportunity for adults to rediscover the beauty and excitement of mathematics, learn something new, or even reignite a passion for the subject.
Recommended time to spend
The recommended time to spend at the National Museum of Mathematics varies depending on your interests and the age group of your party.
However, for most visitors, allocating 1.5 to 3 hours for your visit should provide enough time to explore the various exhibits and engage with the interactive installations at a comfortable pace.
MoMath offers a wide range of exhibits and activities, so you may find that you want to spend more time at certain installations or even revisit some of your favorites.
For families with young children or school groups, the lower end of the suggested time frame (1.5 hours) might be more appropriate, while adults and math enthusiasts may prefer to allocate more time to fully appreciate the depth of the exhibits.
How to get to MoMath?
The National Museum of Mathematics is conveniently located in Manhattan, New York City, making it easily accessible by various modes of transportation. The museum’s address is 11 East 26th Street, New York, NY 10010.
Here are some options for getting there:
- Subway: The most convenient way to reach MoMath is by taking the subway. You can use the following subway lines and stations:
R or W trains to the 28th Street station (Broadway)
6 train to the 28th Street station (Park Avenue South)
N, Q, R, W, B, D, F, or M trains to the 34th Street-Herald Square station, followed by a short walk
- Bus: Several MTA bus routes serve the area around MoMath. The M1, M2, M3, and M55 buses all have stops within walking distance of the museum.
- Car: If you prefer to drive, there are numerous parking garages in the vicinity of MoMath, as on-street parking can be limited. Be prepared for typical Manhattan parking rates, and consider using a parking app or website to find the best options.
- Bike or Walk: If you’re staying nearby or are up for a leisurely stroll or bike ride, MoMath is easily accessible on foot or by bike. New York City’s Citi Bike program also offers convenient bike rentals with stations throughout the city.
In conclusion, the National Museum of Mathematics, or MoMath, offers a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors of all ages to explore and appreciate the fascinating world of mathematics.
With its engaging and interactive exhibits, educational programs, and commitment to making math accessible and enjoyable, MoMath breaks down barriers and encourages a deeper understanding of the subject.