Culture to Meet Math at New York Museum

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor A Museum of Mathematics is scheduled to open in Manhattan in the fall of 2012 and a lease for 19,000 square feet near Madison Square Park has just been signed. Set to be located at 11 [...]

A Museum of Mathematics is scheduled to open in Manhattan in the fall of 2012 and a lease for 19,000 square feet near Madison Square Park has just been signed. Set to be located at 11 E. 26th St. on the ground floor and lower level, the museum is a nonprofit cultural institution created by Glen Whitney, a former algorithm manager at Renaissance Technologies who also used to teach mathematics at the University of Michigan.

Glen Whitney started working on his dream two years ago, when he left his lucrative career as a hedge-fund algorithm manager to bring math back to people by creating this unique interactive math museum. The museum, MOMATH for short, will try to solve the cultural issue with the way mathematics is currently perceived in the United States. In an attempt to turn math into something fun and attractive, the museum will display more than 50 exhibits, such as The Ring of Fire, a laser-lighted cylinder revealing a series of different shapes incorporated in the structure.

MOMATH has so far raised $22 million of its $30 million campaign, and Whitney says that once the museum becomes fully operational the annual operating budget is expected to slightly exceed $3 million. Also, the museum recently received a $2 million grant from Google to support other science museums to create and display exhibits based on the designs already developed by MOMATH.

Also in New York City news this week, prospective investors may soon be able to own a piece of the Empire State Building. The 102-story Art Deco tower located at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street is controlled by the Malkin family, which apparently is planning to create a traded real estate company that would incorporate New York’s architectural marvel.

If the Malkin family’s plan is implemented, New York residents and, in fact, people from all over the world will have the ability to buy stock from the newly created company, hence becoming owners of the Empire State Building.

The Malkins bought control of the Empire State Building in 1961 from Henry Crown but gained full control of the tower only five years ago, after a long period of legal battles and feuds with competing investors such as Donald Trump. The renovation costs for the 2.9 million square feet building reached $560 million and this financial effort led to doubled rent tariffs.

The Malkins are counting on the Empire State Building’s international fame and New York’s rising commercial real estate to bring investors from all over the world. However, a series of details must be cleared first, such as gaining the support of the Malkins’ main partner, the estate of Leona Helmsley, and the other 3,400 limited partners who have shares in the company that currently owns the Empire State Building.