A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature Special Exhibition to Open this Fall at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

Numbers In Nature Exhibit Exhibit @ the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago

New Exhibition Highlights Mathematical Patterns in Nature with a Mirror Maze Experience 

A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature, a new interactive and immersive exhibition at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, will be on view from Saturday, October 12, 2019 through Sunday, April 12, 2020. Created by the Museum of  Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI), the exhibition exposes and explains the mathematical patterns that abound in the natural world. From the nested spirals of a sunflower’s seeds, to the ridges of a majestic mountain range, to the layout of the Universe, each provides a unique perspective of our daily surroundings. Various interactive elements allow for hands-on learning to understand that math is all around us in everyday life, revealing the beauty of our world through numbers.


The centerpiece of A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature is an elaborate mirror maze where guests can lose themselves in a seemingly infinite repeating pattern of mirrors. This arrangement of symmetry and tessellation provides an introduction to patterns and how math surrounds us every day. Dead ends are scattered throughout the maze, and hidden within the experience is a small secret room, rewarding guests with bonus puzzles and artifacts.


The exhibition also features an immersive theater presenting an introduction to how math surrounds us every day, depicting stunning footage of nature, the human body, and even art and architecture. Hands-on activities within the exhibition allow for further exploration of mathematics—such as fractal branching, spirals, Voronoi patterns, the Golden Ratio (ɸ), and more. From measuring their own wingspan to viewing their own eye’s blood vessels, creating computer-generated landscapes as seen in movies to playing a multistring harp, guests will manipulate and create their own mathematical patterns. The exhibition also features an array of artifacts—Bighorn sheep antlers, honeycomb and an aluminum anthill casting—that demonstrate real examples of patterns in objects from the natural world.


Additional interactive highlights of the exhibition include:


  • Lenticular images that animate imagery from nature, showing the many repeating patterns that are easily identifiable—if they know where to look!
  • Draw patterns on a digital screen—like connecting dots to draw spirals and creating Fibonacci rectangles—and see real-world objects that show that same pattern.
  • Step in front of a large two-way mirror and strike various poses while a projection superimposes patterns and proportions on your body in real time.
  • Look through an eyepiece to observe how blood vessels branch within your eyes.
  • Observe just how much symmetry—or lack thereof—is present in the human face.
  • Compose a piece of music using symmetry: vary a single musical motive and hear your creations played back.
  • Discover and compare similar patterns in architecture from varying parts of the world—from the Taj Mahal to the Beijing National Stadium—built millennia apart.


A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature was created by the Museum of  Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI).


A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature will be on view now through Sunday, April 12, 2020, inside the Hsiao Family Special Exhibition Gallery on the first floor of the museum. Admission to A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature is included with all museum admission tickets. Additional information on the exhibition can be found at frostscience.org/mirrormaze.


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