Math and the City: A Photo Blog

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend a weekend in the Big Apple. I was mostly there to give a talk at the CUNY collaborative number theory seminar (which was very short but otherwise OK), but I was also able to visit the Museum of Math for the opening of a new gallery and exhibit. In this post, I will share some pictures from the exhibit, and thoughts about the Museum.

I’ve been wanting to go to the MoMath for a while now. I mean, as far as I know it’s the only place of its kind: a museum dedicated entirely to math. In my mind, I had this image of a giant science museum but filled with math instead of dinosaurs, so I was expecting something much larger. However, I was excited about the great location (blocks away from the Empire State Building) and the general fun atmosphere (that maybe most people don’t associate with math). I can imagine many field trips┬ácome through those halls and leave with some additional insight into the fun side of mathematics. I am already trying to figure out how to make my own college field trip with my students.

I only got a chance to go for the opening of the Composite Gallery, and so many of the exhibits and floors were closed at the time. But we got some prosecco and hors d’oeuvres and the buzz and excitement that goes with an opening, so all was well in the end. ┬áThe gallery is going to host temporary math-related art exhibits, and right now it is home to “Compounding Visions”, featuring art by identical twins Trevor and Ryan Oakes. In a nutshell, their work is all about experimenting with perspectives, like in the concave canvases that they use to draw or paint landscapes (and cityscapes). Anyway, I promised pictures, so here they are.

(Also worth noting, my fellow blogger Evelyn Lamb was in the city at the same time, for the same reasons, and wrote her own take on math and the city in her blog, Roots of Unity. She alwso writes about her visits to the MoMA and Met museums.)

The entrance to the museum, with the appropriately Pi shaped door handles.

The entrance to the museum, with the appropriately Pi shaped door handles.

The famous bike with square wheels, out of commission for the evening's festivities.

The famous bike with square wheels, out of commission for the evening’s festivities.

The gallery was crowded with math enthusiasts, taking in the exciting new exhibit.

The gallery was crowded with math enthusiasts, taking in the exciting new exhibit.

One of the concave drawings. The idea behind this, as explained in the exhibit, is that this represents our perception much more accurately than a flat canvas.

One of the concave drawings. The idea, as explained in the exhibit, is that this represents our perception much more accurately than a flat canvas.

A different view of the concave paintings.

A different view of the concave paintings.

One of a couple of sculptures made of matches, many many many matches...

One of a couple of sculptures made of matches, many many many matches…

 

This curved piece made out of corrugated cardboard was probably my favorite. If you stand on one side of it, you can only see one point on the other side by looking through the holes.

This curved piece made out of corrugated cardboard was probably my favorite. If you stand on one side of it, you can only see one point on the other side by looking through the holes…

...and if you stand in exactly the right spot, you see everything on the other side (and everyone on that side can only see you).

…and if you stand in exactly the right spot, you see everything on the other side (and everyone on that side can only see you).

There were also a few sculptures made out of pipe cleaners.

There were also a few sculptures made out of pipe cleaners.

 

And of course, I had to share this picture of the Empire State Building that I took on my way to the museum. Not an exhibit at the museum, but a mathematical feat nonetheless.

And of course, I had to share this picture of the Empire State Building that I took on my way to the museum. Not an exhibit at the museum, but a mathematical feat nonetheless.

 

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3 Responses to Math and the City: A Photo Blog

  1. Jason says:

    This is funny. I received two items in my RSS feed at the same time about the MoMath exhibit, both by mathematicians who where in New York to give a math talk earlier this month. The other article is here:
    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/roots-of-unity/2014/05/23/moma-to-momath-mathematical-art-new-york-city/

    • Adriana Salerno says:

      Of course! I should have mentioned that, Evelyn and I ran into each other at the exhibit. I will link to it in the post.

  2. Lois Patterson says:

    There is another math museum–the Arithmeum in Bonn, Germany, which sadly was closed the day I was in Bonn.

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