"math.space" in Vienna - Where Numbers Come Alive

by Caroline Adenberger

 Remember your mathematics lessons in school? Well, most grown-ups probably can't - or even won't - remember, glad that this experience is now part of their past. The rest still get an uneasy feeling in their stomachs remembering all those numbers and placeholders, not knowing what they're good for or how they should be used in "real" life. Very few look back on school mathematics with smiles on their faces. Those who do are the few who were lucky enough to not just to follow their math teachers' comments, but also to understand the "beauty and magic of mathematics," in the words of Rudolf Taschner, one of the initiators of the "math.space" project.

 

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"math.space" is a one-of-a-kind project located at the Viennese MuseumsQuartier, one of the world's ten biggest museum complexes. It opened its doors in January 2003 with the goal of showing that mathematics is much more than just dry numbers and a fading bad memory from school. "Mathematics is one of the highest cultural achievements of our society," explains Prof. Taschner, "therefore, our location within the MuseumsQuartier fits perfectly." Within an area of some 200 square meters, situated above the rooftop of the MuseumsQuartier on its topographical peak level, Prof. Taschner and the "math.space" team open the magical world of mathematics to the public. Everyone is welcome, from kindergarten children to senior citizens who want to discover and explore the world of numbers.

 

Since its opening, more than 30,000 visitors have participated in numerous events at "math.space." From lectures to hands-on workshops, "math.space" offers a varied program. The event program is prepared and organized by Austrian mathematicians and cultural theorists and sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Education and the City of Vienna, with additional support from several private institutions.


"Mathematical dreams of the future" for teens at math.space


 Let's look at a few events hosted by "math.space." There is, for example, the mathematical expedition for children ages four-and-a-half to seven. Taught effortlessly as part of playing, children learn about the basics of mathematics in a creative way. Under the care and supervision of play pedagogues, the children are introduced to different fields of mathematics such as set theory, geometry, or measurement (magnitudes, lengths etc.) - gaining access to mathematics while playing, and laying a foundation for positive attitudes towards mathematics instead of fearing it in their class schedule.

 

Another event series called "Zukunftsmathematik" (mathematics of the future) at "math.space" focuses on teens between the ages of 16 and 18 who are thinking about a possible career in the fields of science, industry, or finance. Experts in mathematics and the application of mathematical methods talk to their young audience about career prospects based on mathematical thinking. For example a lecture that will be given this November by Dr. Stefan Zapotocky, General Director of the Vienna Stock Market: He discusses the coherency between mathematics and stock exchange transactions, connecting the dots between dull theory and thrilling practice.


Raising public awareness of science in Austria

 

Together with the Austrian Science Foundation (FWF), "math.space" also hosts lectures by Austrian scientists from various fields. The talks, suited to a general public interested in science-related topics, deal with their research and its relation to mathematics. During these lectures, the visitor to "math.space" has the opportunity to learn how mathematics and science influence our daily life.

 

"MuMoMatik," a  collaboration between the Museum of Modern Art (also situated within the MuseumsQuartier area) and "math.space," focuses on pre-selected exhibits (mostly fluxus, minimal- and concept-art, and arte povera). Here, the mathematical aspects of modern artwork are explained and the final result is considered from a mathematical point of view - showing that mathematics can be found not only on a classroom's blackboard, but also in the most colorful and creative artwork and paintings.

 

Whether you are a resident or a visitor to Vienna, a trip to the MuseumsQuartier is definitely worthwhile. And when you are there, look for the hidden spot on the peak level of that building complex. That little world of numbers, graphs, and figures will open your eyes to understanding and seeing things in life from a different angle - you can count on it.


Contact Information:
math.space
at the Viennese MuseumsQuartier
Museumsplatz 1 (Ovaltrakt e-5.4)
A - 1070 Vienna

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://math.space.or.at

Related article:
Rudolf Taschner: The Mathgician

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