Maths is all around us, as Wet Wet Wet nearly sang, and now the Science Museum has got a new gallery devoted to all things numerical.  I confess that I was a little confused as to what we would find in a Maths Gallery.  Lots of complicated calculations perhaps?  Thankfully not.  Just the fruit of those calculations.

Maths Gallery, Science Museum

Right at the centre of the Maths Gallery is a Handley Page biplane surrounded by an attractive  swirling white and purple structure.  All designed by Zaha Hadid.  Have you ever wondered what keeps a plane in the air?  Well take a closer look at all those swirls and you will have your answer for they represent the wind tunnel flows created by the plane.

Maths Gallery, Science Museum

What does this rather fine chest of drawers have to do with Maths?  In 1818, it came to the attention of the Lord Castlereagh that not all weights and measures were the same and that meant that British business might loose out.  So he sent a memo to all the British Consuls around the world asking them to send examples of local standard weights to London.  It took two years for all 71 to arrive and when they did they were housed in this cabinet the Royal Mint.

Maths Gallery, Science Museum

More obviously mathematical, but equally important to trade, is calculating the tides.  All these dials are part of Lord Kelvin’s tide predicting machine that deploys the harmonic method of analysis to produce a years worth of data.  Somewhat less attractive is a machine, that stands nearby. It was developed in the wake of the 1953 East Coast floods to help predict when storm surges might occur, this is a lot trickier than simple tides and the weather plays a large part in the equation.

Maths Gallery, Science Museum

Calculators are so cheap and everyday now, that when I tell the Junior CW’s just how impressed we all were when Stephen Oakley come into school with a Sinclair Cambridge calculator they looks at me as if I’m telling them about the Dark Ages.  Sure enough the Maths Gallery has a whole section devoted to calculators.

Maths Gallery, Science Museum

The new Maths Gallery is a visual treat but also an eye opening one.  Being good at Maths opens up many interesting careers not just the obvious accounting and computer options but architecture too. A maths graduate friend of mine once described Maths as THE most creative subject, I raised an eyebrow at the time but would now agree with him.  We visited with Junior CW’s and the Godmother, all had a good time.


Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD
Open: Daily 10am – 5.15pm
Admission free (but donations very welcome!)
If you’d like more ideas about entertaining teens take a look at my Free Things to do with Teens in London post.


Maths Gallery, Science Museum


  1. February 3, 2017 / 10:23 am

    We were at the science museum in December but either the Maths gallery wasn’t open then or we somehow missed it. My daughter loves maths and would have enjoyed this so we need to make a return visit. So many kids are anti-maths that having a specific gallery that shows the application of maths is a great idea in engaging kids – its the pathway to so much science. Hilarious to see the scientific calculator in a museum goodness me I remember getting one for a christmas present when I was a child! Thanks for sharing its great to get museum updates #cultured kids

    • February 3, 2017 / 10:26 am

      Hello It opened in early December so maybe you were a bit too early. You are so right about enthusing children about Maths and the gallery does that very well.

  2. February 3, 2017 / 11:03 am

    Excellent. I have a nerdy 11-year old who would be in his element here. That Lord Castlereagh was a mistrustful sort of chap, wasn’t he? #CulturedKids

    • February 3, 2017 / 11:08 am

      But he had a good cabinet maker!

  3. February 3, 2017 / 12:50 pm

    Whoever knew that maths could be so visually appealing? The plane swirls are beautiful. I wonder what my own children would make of the pre-calculator days. They’re even younger than yours, I think. I’m sure it would be totally alien to them. Thanks for linking up with #CulturedKids

    • February 3, 2017 / 12:55 pm

      I suspect that it’s not the under 20’s but also the under 40’s who struggle to remember a time without calculators!

  4. February 5, 2017 / 4:22 pm

    Laughing at the calculators part and feeling old ;). I like that you bring up the point about math being closely connected to creativity. Our schools’ STEM program – Science, technology and math – is now being called STEAM, to include art. We love science museums and my older daughter would love this exhibit as she’s quite good at math – let’s just say she doesn’t get it from me! #culturedkids

  5. February 8, 2017 / 9:37 am

    This looks like such a cool exhibition at the Science museum. We are planning a trip to London at Easter (from Newcastle) so will stick it on the itinerary. The brief for the trip is cheap or free…and there’s so much of this in London. #culturedkids

    • February 8, 2017 / 2:33 pm

      In the summer we stayed just round the corner in the Imperial College halls of residence, cheap and central might be worth checking out for accommodation

  6. February 22, 2017 / 6:45 pm

    I’m desperate to visit this and gutted to miss to it’s #culturedkids

  7. February 24, 2017 / 11:39 am

    What a great exhibit. I used to have a reverse polish calculator and loved it to bits even though I have always been rubbish at maths. My favourite part of the post was the opening line though. Made me laugh! Thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles

  8. Clare Thomson
    February 28, 2017 / 4:08 pm

    Well done, Catherine – you’ve turned a Maths gallery into a must-see. Who knew? My oldest son would love this and his father would be in heaven. I’m pinning for our next trip to London. Thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles

  9. February 28, 2017 / 5:10 pm

    I’m not ashamed to say that I’d really like to see the calculator exhibition! I’m not sure my teenager would be so impressed but she loves maths and might enjoy the other bits. #CulturedKids

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