The IMAGINARY Journey to Open Mathematics Engagement: History and Current Projects

Eric Londaits, Andreas Matt, Antonia S.J.S. Mey, Daniel Ramos, Christian Stussak, Bianca Violet

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, we will take you on a journey through mathematics exhibitions and other mathematics public engagement activities our nonprofit organization IMAGINARY has brought to life. This journey started in 2007 and was made possible through many collaborations and partnerships to get us to where we are in 2021, with more than 100 countries having seen our exhibitions, workshops, or other activities. The idea behind this article is to highlight key decisions we took on our journey, some personal insights, and to introduce our open and participative way to engage the general public with mathematical sciences.

In the first part, we will describe how the IMAGINARY project evolved over the last 14 years and how we have focused on refining our didactical approaches we deem appropriate for public engagement. This makes us a strong advocate for non-formal mathematical education. We have gathered our experience in creating material for outside-of-school workshops and help teachers prepare modern mathematical topics for the classroom, as well as other science educators. Another aspect that we took seriously and, as the project grew, had to dynamically adjust, was our approaches to customizing material for different demographics. The focus was both on the cultural context of different regions in the world, as well as the inclusion of groups that typically would not be exposed to mathematics exhibitions or workshops. This would include empowering girls and women as well as families from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds. In the process we revised our policies, balancing a strong commitment to free and open licenses, with our paid services covering our work. Our network has grown beyond the academic world of mathematicians and now includes different companies, artists, museums, and cultural mediators.

In the second part we will walk through a few of our latest projects that expose what is IMAGINARY nowadays. The highlights are the two exhibitions: La La Lab — the Mathematics of Music (2019) and I AM A.I. — explaining artificial intelligence (2020). We invite the reader to follow IMAGINARY on the next steps of its mathematics journey by providing a glimpse into a couple of currently ongoing projects we are involved in: the International Day of Mathematics (2020), our new 10 Minute Museum on the mathematics of the Climate Crisis (2021), and our exploration into interactive children story books through Mathina (2021).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Mathematical Science Communication
PublisherWorld Scientific
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-125-308-9
ISBN (Print)978-981-125-306-5
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2023

Publication series

NameHandbook of Mathematical Science Communication
ISSN (Print)2737-4912
ISSN (Electronic)2737-4793


Dive into the research topics of 'The IMAGINARY Journey to Open Mathematics Engagement: History and Current Projects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this