Mathematics. It’s a subject that can elicit groans and exclamations of “boring.” But Glen Whitney, a former hedge-fund quantitative analyst, is betting he can change that with a formula that looks like this: math (equals) discovery (equals) beauty (equals) fun.Whitney is planning to open the only museum in the United States dedicated to mathematics. MoMath, which will center on the wonders of mathematics and its connections with art, science and finance, is scheduled to open in New York City sometime in 2012, with the help of a $2 million grant from Google.
There are many great math teachers in the United States, but the subject’s joy of discovery is lost to the “tyranny of the curriculum and the almost treadmill of standardized testing,” Whitney said.
“That sensibility has sucked out the life of the subject,” he said. “Math is evolving. It’s an act of human endeavor. There’s beauty” in its many patterns.
The museum will provide the element of surprise and excitement that textbooks cannot, added Cindy Lawrence, the museum’s chief of operations who directs an extracurricular mathematics program for gifted students through a joint venture with Brookhaven National Laboratory.
The $30 million museum will occupy the ground floor and lower level of a 20-story building on East 26th Street in Chelsea; $22 million already has been raised.