The Mathematikum is a museum where visitors are invited to understand mathematics over 170 hands-on, math-related exhibits. Guests can solve puzzles, build bridges, make music, stand inside soap bubbles, embody the golden ratio, contemplate infinity, and more, all throughout the three floors of this 1200 sqm (13,000 sqft) museum.
Founded by German mathematician Albrecht Beutelspacher, the concept of the Mathematikum began with a seminar on geometric models taught by Beutelspacher at the University of Giessen. In 1994 he started holding public exhibitions of the models his students created to demonstrate, in concrete form or observable action, various abstract mathematical concepts. These annual shows grew in size and popularity, transforming into a travelling show in 1998 that toured domestically and internationally. Beutelspacher’s innovative math exhibitions finally found a permanent home with the opening of the Mathematikum on November 19th, 2002.
The goal of the Mathematikum is to open a new door to mathematics for people of all ages and educational backgrounds. Rather than discussing math using symbols, equations, or formulas, the Mathematikum relies on sensory experiences to make sense of the ideas that underpin many of math’s key insights. For example, the special properties of soap are explored by standing inside a giant soap bubble. Visitors can produce figures or replicate geometric bodies with mirrors, build a so-called “Leonardo Bridge” from wooden slats, experience pi spatially, and see time in the form of a tree calendar. Through these puzzles and experiments, complex mathematical concepts are unconsciously, easily and understandably communicated.
In 2009, the Mini-Mathematikum was added to the permanent collection; this section is aimed primarily at children from four to eight years old. and examines basic topics of mathematics, such as numbers, shapes and patterns. The Mathematikum also continues to stage travelling exhibitions worldwide and helps develop exhibits for other science museums.