Countdown to fun: National Museum of Mathematics adds up the fun at Madison Square Park event

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The National Museum of Mathematics hosted a fulfilled afternoon adjacent to Madison Square Park while their location remains closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Photo by Dean Moses

North America’s only math museum took their numbers to the street on Sunday at Madison Square Park.

The National Museum of Mathematics remains one of the few museums that are still closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Associate Director Timothy Nissen of the National Museum of Mathematics, this is due to the fact that 90% of the exhibits are physically interactive, leading the doors to the East 26th Street location to stay shuttered.  

With young New Yorkers unable to visit their exhibition, the Math Museum decided to bring the exhibit to them, and out in the open.

Staff members of the National Museum of Mathematics showcased fun games using geometric shapes and numbers. Photo by Dean Moses

With the number of COVID-19 cases hitting new lows seemingly every day, the countdown to brighter days has begun with outdoor math. 

Thanks to the Big Apple’s Open Streets program — which Mayor Bill de Blasio recently made a permanent fixture — the National Museum of Mathematics set up a free outdoor calculus event on May 16 for families to enjoy.

Various geometry games lay spread out, stretching down East 26th Street beside Madison Square Park, with children racing over mats depicting numbers, shapes, and mazes.

Dylan, a two-year-old numerical enthusiast, became the first person to give the museum’s longest exhibit a test drive.

Dylan is a huge fan of numbers and the National Museum of Mathematics. Photo by Dean Moses

“We found out about this on amNewYork’s things to do. Stuff that is outside really helps because we have a two-year-old who is not vaccinated yet, so it is really nice. He is learning to count but he is already a big fan of numbers,” said Marc Franzblau, Dylan’s father.

In addition to the ground exhibits, displays included television screens presenting kaleidoscopic imagery and a gigantic Connect 4. Staff from the museum were on hand to play and teach young people regarding the fun side of math. These adults joined in the amusement by participating in the activities alongside the children.

A massive Connect 4 was also at hand for those savvy enough to play this classic game. Photo by Dean Moses

Associate Director Nissen was overjoyed to watch life flutter around the museum again for the first time in well over a year.

“We are outdoors, the weather is nice—we are starting up again,” Nissen said, adding, “It is really nice to see this. We have had kids crying to stay at our museum.”

Associate Director Timothy Nissen of the National Museum of Mathematics.Photo by Dean Moses

The beaming sun made the event appealing to those who were just passing by. With the street blocked off from traffic, children of all ages were afforded the ability to jog around the area without parents fearing for their safety. Longtime fans of the National Museum of Mathematics also made sure to attend.

“My daughter loved the Math Museum since she went on a field trip here with her school and it has been closed for a while so when I saw they were having this, I knew I had to check it out,” Carlie Sigel said.

The Museum is set to reopen this summer and tickets go on sale starting June 1 (earlier for members) at visit.momath.org.