MoMath, Mo' People Interested?

I've always hated math.  I'm probably the only person you'll ever know who got 380 on her math SAT (and that's with 200 points for spelling your name right!).

But Glen Whitney's trying to put an end to that.  According to Molly Petrilla at, in 2006, when the mathematician and hedge fund algorithm manager, learned the tiny Goudreau Museum of Math in Art and Science in Hyde Park, N.Y., had closed for good, he began thinking about ways to replace it.

A few years later, Whitney had raised $23 million" to build a brand-new, 20,000-square-foot museum devoted to his favorite subject," Petrilla writes. The only museum of its kind in North America, the Museum of Mathematics opened in Manhattan on Dec. 12, 2012.  That's 12-12-12, you guys.

Eight months later, MoMath — a nickname Whitney embraces — has attracted more visitors than he ever imagined. “There was a projection that we’d have 60,000 visitors in the first year,” he tells Petrilla. “It’s only July, and we’re already at more than 120,000.”

Whitney built this museum for people like me, the math "illiterates," as he calls them, Petrilla reports.  "I wanted people to be able to experience some of the beautiful and wonderful things that I’d had the chance to experience and that most people never get a chance to see," Petrilla quotes him. "Just the way people should get a chance to view art or hear a symphony, they should also get a chance to see some of the beauty and wonder of mathematics."

Whitney feels, according to Petrilla, that, "In the roughly 2,000 hours of math instruction you get in traditional K-12 school, you get a non-representative view of what mathematics as a human enterprise is like."  He's got me there!  "There are so many different areas, and there’s no need for people to feel that if they don’t like one area, then they don’t like math at all," he goes on.

Whitney says math is connected to "every possible thing you can imagine." When you're traveling, or going anywhere, optimal routes.  Subway versus taxi versus walking.  Even whether this brand of bread is cheaper than another.

"If I could snap my fingers and make one change to how schools approach mathematics, it would be that math is taught in elementary school by math specialists. It’s really important that all kids have the opportunity to learn math from someone who truly loves math and who is going to convey that love and enthusiasm," he tells Petrilla.


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