The Museum of Mathematics : muma.org.za

Two of my areas of expertise are mathematics education and museums.

So it was natural to combine these together, and this was a project which I conceived around 10 years ago but did not act on at the time. I call this the Museum of Mathematics, and which I shorten to MUMA.

I do not have the resources which are available to other museums, and I have developed a strategy for the development of MUMA which provides for an initial development as a purely virtual museum, with online content, and with the development of the physical collection.

All museums are in essence collections of things which are valued today or in the future – for a range of different stakeholders. MUMA is designed as the basis for a repository of mathematical artifacts and knowledge.

The artifacts include:

  • calculating equipment : which enhance our ability to perform mathematical calculations and solve problems, such as calculators, adding machines, slide rules, and abaci.
  • measuring equipment : which create a number as a measure of something – such as scales, rulers, sextants, and very large objects such as the Square Kilometre Array
  • books on mathematics : with a focus on old textbooks

The repository is a digital record of mathematical knowledge including:

  • a thesaurus of mathematical terms and notations, both in words and symbols
  • a repository of examination papers
  • mathematical jokes – and their deeper analysis
  • famous mathematical equations and theorems
  • indigenous mathematics
  • autobigraphical details of famous mathematicians, such as Pythagoras, Isaac Newton, Alan Turing, and George Boole

Each of the collections within MUMA has been identified and a collection development policy has been formulated.

I encourage you to examine muma.org.za and if you have an interest then help me to get involved. This is a not-for-profit venture which I am preparing as a legacy for future stakeholders in mathematics teaching and learning.