February Fourier Talks 2018

Peggy Kidwell

Smithsonian Institution


Historic Mathematical Objects - A Curator Looks at Stuff


For somewhat over thirty years, it has been my privilege to look after the mathematical objects at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. It is both a challenge and a delight to determine what the objects are, to uncover the stories of who made and used them, and to share these tales with the public. This brief introduction to the material culture of mathematics should provide an entertaining prelude to the feast that follows. At the same time, I hope that listeners will think a bit about the role objects play and have played in their own education, teaching, and research, and be more mindful of such devices as these endeavors continue.

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