The science and art of mathematics comes together dramatically in the redesigned Mathematics: The Winton Gallery at London’s Science Museum. A vision of the late architect Zaha Hadid, whose Zaha Hadid Architects created the design in collaboration with curator David Rooney, the exhibit showcases 400 years of mathematics history from the renaissance to the present day.
On display are more than 100 pieces from the museum’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics collections, chosen to illustrate how mathematics makes everyday life better. One of the highlights is the Handley Page Gugnunc aeroplane built in 1929 in Britain to be the safest aircraft for human travel, setting the stage for commercial flight.
The aircraft is an inspiration for the gallery design, which also relies on mathematics by incorporating equations of airflow used in the aviation industry. The layout and lines of the space represent airflow that would have surrounded the plane in flight. Everything from the positioning of the showcases and the benches to the three-dimensional curved surfaces of the central pod structure take this into account.
The curved overhead structure was created by assembling fabric on powder-coated aluminum frames. It seems to fold in and out of itself around the gallery, like connecting air currents. Visitors may sit or stand at almost any spot, look up and have a sense of the swirling patterns of air that are always above us, but not normally visible to the naked eye.