Zaha Hadid's new mathematics gallery opens at the London Science Museum tomorrow. Containing over 100 pieces from the museum's voluminous science, technology, mathematics, and engineering collections, the exhibition highlights how mathematics has shaped the world.
Named after a British investment management firm, the Mathematics: The Winton Gallery is the first permanent public museum exhibition designed by Zaha Hadid Architects and the first of Hadid's projects to open in the UK since her death in March.
The gallery features an illuminated canopy sporting the starchitect's familiar curves and is centered around a Handley Page "Gugnunc" airplane, suspended from the ceiling. Built in 1929 for a competition to construct safe aircraft, the wing's aerodynamic design played an important part in shifting public opinion about the safety of flying.
Other notable pieces include a WWII-era Enigma Machine, a Moniac mechanical computer, a 17th century Islamic astrolabe that uses ancient mathematical techniques to map the night sky, and a box of glass eyes used by Sir Francis Galton in his development of eugenics theories.
Engineering firm Arup handled wiring and lighting for the project, and produced what it calls a "wind tunnel of light," which highlights how air would move around the Gugnunc aircraft's wings.
Hadid herself professed a keen interest in mathematics. "When I was growing up in Iraq, math was an everyday part of life," said the British-Iraqi architect before her death. "We would play with math problems just as we would play with pens and paper to draw – math was like sketching."
The Winton Gallery is free to visit and opens tomorrow, December 8, at the London Science Museum.