A new exhibit, "Mysteries at the Museum," will open on March 11 at the San Bernardino County Museum.
The exhibit features unfamiliar objects from the museum's anthropology and archaeology, geology, history, and biology collections and challenges visitors to figure out their functions using the scientific method. Some were totally familiar items a century ago; others appear to be commonplace but may not be exactly what they seem.
Museum visitors are invited to observe, question, hypothesize, test, decide, and share their results by posting notes in the exhibit itself and by using social media.
"This exhibit is fundamentally about observing and thinking about objects that aren't immediately recognizable." said Museum Director Melissa Russo. "In pondering the shape, color, material and possible function of an object, our goal is to get visitors to use their curiosity that leads to creativity and invention."
The exhibit includes a section focused on the irrational number Pi: a number that never ends and never repeats itself. The number, rounded to 3.14, is used to calculate the circumference of any circle. Its mathematical properties have been recognized since ancient Babylonian times, 4,000 years ago.
"We're installing numerals representing Pi out to 40 decimal points on the walls of the gallery," said Russo, "and we encourage visitors to share their own favorite numbers by bringing photos, drawings, poetry, notes, and ephemera to post near the matching numeral."
The exhibit will continue through July 15.
The museum will offer special family programming to celebrate math during a Pre-Pi Family FunSunday on Sunday, March 13.
Mysteries at the Museum Family FunSunday on March 20 will also feature fun family activities, including constructing tinfoil hats to recognize National Extraterrestrial Abduction Day.
The San Bernardino County Museum is at 2024 Orange Tree Lane, at the California Street exit from Interstate 10 in Redlands. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
General admission is $10 for adults, $8 for military members or seniors, $7 for students, and $5 for children aged 5 to 12. Children under five and Museum Association members are admitted free. For more information, visit www.sbcountymuseum.org.