National Museum of Mathematics

Edification value  4/5
Entertainment value  4/5
Should you go?  3/5
Time spent 137 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned The Museum of Math puts model racing cars on a Möbius strip track and lets kids drive them round and round.

National Museum of Mathematics - MoMath - New York
Möbius racing car track

The depiction and the accompanying explanation of how one-sided shapes work are rich and complex, and epitomize the museum’s approach to learning.

The National Museum of Mathematics (or, inevitably, MoMath, sigh), occupies two floors of a deep, somewhat narrow storefront on the northern border of Madison Square Park.  You know you’ve reached the right place because the door handles form a red letter π.

Automated vending machines dispense unique, reusable tags for visitors to wear.  There’s a lot they could do to customize the visitor’s experience based on the tags.  Possibly the things generate a useful datastream showing visitors’ paths through the museum and the exhibits they try or skip.  I hope they do, at least; I didn’t see much in the way of visitor-facing uses of them.  In which case why not use a traditional sticker or little metal badge? Continue reading “National Museum of Mathematics”

Center for Book Arts

Edification value  2/5
Entertainment value  3/5
Should you go?  3/5
Time spent 34 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned A book turned into a fantastically eroded landscape by Guy Laramée. Google that dude, his work is amazing.

Center for Book Arts, Anthropocene Show, Manhattan
Guy Laramée, “Archaeology,” 2010, altered book

The Center for Book Arts is one of those quixotic organizations whose unlikely existence helps make life in New York worthwhile.  In this digital age, the idea that an organization will teach you how to letterpress print, how to bind a book, how to marbleize paper, seems hopelessly, charmingly, vitally anachronistic.  In addition to classes, the Center for Book Arts also offers memberships; join and you can go and hand-set lead type to your heart’s content.  Just don’t lick your fingers while you do it.

Continue reading “Center for Book Arts”

Museum of Sex

Edification value  
Entertainment value  4/5
Should you go?  2/5
Time spent 73 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned A wall text in the animals exhibit about a Dutch biologist who wrote a paper on gay necrophilia in mallard ducks.  Those Dutch biologists, man…

Museum of Sex, New York

Museum of Sex, New YorkWhat can I say about the Museum of Sex?  It’s fun.  The gift shop is hysterical — if you’re at all prone to blushing, it will make you blush.  It’s immensely positive, and in a weird sort of way, innocent, maybe even willfully naive about its topic.

The Museum of Sex (MoSex for short) opened in 2002 and is, according to its website, “one of the most dynamic and innovative institutions in the world.”  Ok then. Its collection includes some 20,000 pieces, including both art and artifacts, only a small fraction of which are on display at any given time across the four floors of exhibitionist galleries in its space a few blocks south of the Empire State Building. Continue reading “Museum of Sex”