Like many Chicagoans, Kevin Byrne runs every morning. However, he does it throughout the 14-acre Museum of Science and Industry to scout out different places that are exceptionally dark and would be perfect for his next sleeping locale.
Byrne is spending 30 days inside the Museum of Science and Industry for the second round of their program called “Month at the Museum, Science Never Sleeps.”
It was Day 16 on Nov. 3 according to his yellow shirt, as Byrne leans out of his window to pose for pictures and chat with curious passers-by in his 16-foot-by-16-foot Plexiglass room decorated with a “modern-science-geek-sheik style.” He started living at the museum on Oct. 19 and will stay until Nov. 17.
He actually only spends a short one or two hours in this living room space where he updates his Facebook, Twitter and blog. There is also a private bedroom upstairs, and he is free to explore the rest of the museum as much and for as long as he pleases.
Since he started, he has slept in the Smart House, Lunar Module and Tornado simulator, and he is hoping to spend a night in the coal mine exhibit, but there isn’t much room for sleep in his busy schedule, he said.
Byrne said he tried to go into this without any expectations, but he has been putting in more hours per day working here than he does at his regular eight-hour-day-time job as a digital marketing analyst.
“You could be here for years and not even see everything,” Public Relations Coordinator Marilyn Stein said.
Each day has a different theme, which makes it easier for him to choose activities. On Nov. 3 it was Book Day, where he plans on going to the new Dr. Seuss exhibit to read to children.
“There were six finalists. Judges looked for high energy, if the applicant was relatable, approachable, and excited to do this,” Stein said.
Byrne said the experience has enhanced his passion for science and is very motivating. “It’s so interactive, you can’t but want to try things–to pull that lever, to push that button,” Bryne said. “Adults get out of that habit. It reminded me to be inquisitive and to challenge myself.”
Some visitors to the museum said they don’t think they could last a month.
“Who wouldn’t want to do that?” said Mitzie Miller, 46, an instructor at the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, who was looking forward to the tornadoes and tidal waves in the Science Storm exhibit.
After the experience is over, Byrne wants to resume his life in public as it was before. “I don’t anticipate being noticed or recognized,” Byrne said. He said even though it was slightly disconcerting that most patrons and employees knew his name, he enjoyed that “they’re legitimately happy to have you there at the museum.”
Byrne is leaving with $10,000.
Reporters Ellen Shaifer-Harte, Evan Braun and Lisa Schultz contributed to this story.