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Mathematical Collection

Mathematical Collection

Cabinet with mathematical models from Verlagshandlung Schilling (image: Georg Pöhlein)

Cabinet with mathematical models from Verlagshandlung Schilling (image: Georg Pöhlein)

The University’s collection of mathematical models was set up by Felix Klein, who became a professor of mathematics at the University in 1872. It is one of the oldest teaching collections of its kind in Germany.

Mathematical models give abstract ideas a physical form. Most of the models in the collection demonstrate topics in geometry. The majority are made of plaster, while a few are made of wood, cardboard, wire, string and brass. These kinds of models were used most frequently in the last quarter of the 19th century when many university lecturers were attempting to use more practical demonstrations in their teaching. The began to fall out of use in the 1920s. In addition to economic considerations, their decline in relevance was due to the increasingly abstract nature of mathematics and changes in interested and teaching strategies. In many places the models were forgotten,

and Erlangen was no exception. It was not until the two institutes of mathematics moved to the southern campus that some of the forgotten models were rediscovered. The collection still includes around 170 objects which are currently being documented scientifically. It is housed in the Felix Klein building on Causerstraße and is open to the public.

Go to collection website


Department Mathematik
Cauerstraße 11
91058 Erlangen


Dr. Johannes Hild
+49 9131 8567063