About her design for world’s foremost gallery of mathematics, Hadid said “The design explores the many influences of mathematics in our everyday lives; transforming seemingly abstract mathematical concepts into an exciting interactive experience for visitors of all ages”.
The gallery as part of a plan to transform one of the museum’s thirds over the next five years, will be open to visitors in 2016 and will be curated by David Rooney, who also curated another exhibition on the life of Alan Turing.
London Science Museum announced that the new gallery has been made possible by the largest individual donation ever made to the museum, an unprecedented £5 million gift from David and Claudia Harding.
According to the Museum, Zaha Hadid Architects described how mathematics, in particular the modelling of turbulence around an aircraft, had inspired the design of the new gallery and she recalled her first visit to the Science Museum, aged 10, describing it as ‘extremely fascinating’.
Maths is too often perceived as a dry and complex, but the new gallery will tell stories that place mathematics at the heart of our lives, exploring how mathematicians, their tools and ideas, have helped to shape the modern world.
The stories told in the gallery will span 400 years of science and mathematics, from the Renaissance to the present day, with objects ranging from intriguing hand-held mathematical instruments to a 1929 experimental aircraft.
The Handley Page aircraft is one of the star objects – a 1929 British experimental aircraft with a 12m wingspan, which will be suspended from the gallery ceiling. With civilian air travel expanding rapidly in the 1920s, aircraft manufacturers around the world needed a better understanding of the mathematics of aerodynamics and material stress.
This experimental aircraft, made in Britain by Handley Page and building on aerodynamic work carried out during WWI, was designed to take off and land slowly and steeply without stalling, vital at a time when urban airfields were often shrouded in fog.
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid said: “Mathematics is an absolutely vital part of a rounded education. So it is great news that the Science Museum is to have a new gallery, helping to bring it alive and make it meaningful for everyone. And with Zaha Hadid Architects to design it, I’m sure the end product will delight and amaze all who come to see it. But this would not be possible without the outstanding generosity of David and Claudia Harding. Their philanthropic gesture creates a legacy which will benefit millions for generations to come.”