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First look: The brand-new Museum of Math in Manhattan (slide show)

We've got the scoop on the Museum of Math, a stunning new addition to the NYC museumscape set to open December 15.

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

Photograph: Jessica Lin

We had the chance to check out the Museum of Math this week, and we were, in a word, wowed. Even though the two-story museum across the street from Madison Square Park is still very much a work in progress (it's set to open to the public on Sat Dec 15), what we saw augurs one of the most important—and impressive—museums for kids in the city ever. (It will be the only math-focused museum in North America, in fact.) Founder and executive director Glen Whitney showed us around the museum he dreamed up to "make math fun," and introduced us to a few of its featured exhibits, many of which are interactive and all of which are decidedly kid-friendly. (While the museum's ideal audience is kids in grades four through nine, it's suitable for kids of all ages and, of course, adults.) One was a set of computed holograms by artist Matthew Brand, flat etched-metal plates of such objects as knots and ropes that, with the introduction of light beams, generate 3-D images of themselves that you can walk around. Another is Coaster Rollers, a Plexiglas-enclosed area filled with oddly shaped objects that act as a set of ball bearings over which you and your child can propel yourselves in a little car; what's magical about this is that these weird shapes, one of which looks sort of dreidel-like, act as though they're spheres because of a unique property they share with balls: they all have a constant diameter. We also saw an enormous two-story parabola, which looks like it just might propel itself through the roof, with an interactive light-up element; the Enigma Café, where families can sit down at tables to work on digital puzzles; Math Square, a kind of Jumbotron set out on the floor that will light up the shortest path connecting every person who's standing on it; the Wall of Fire, a red laser "wall" that illuminates what a cross-section is; and the Matheneum, an enclosed area where you or the kids can design a 3-D object and submit it to a contest; the regularly drawn winners will be "printed"—made into sculptures via a 3-D printer—and exhibited in the museum. Stay tuned for more: We're going back again before the museum opens and will give you the entire scoop on what to do where in this amazing new institution. The Museum of Math is located at 11 E 26th St between Fifth and Madison Aves (momath.org, 212-542-0566). Tickets ($14, children 12 and under $9, children under 2 free) can be purchased online in advance, and cost $1 less than they will at the door.

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