Moving into the museum

If you could sleep overnight at the Museum of Science and Industry, where would you bed down for the night? The train cars? The submarine? How about next to a tornado? That’s the dilemma Kevin Byrne, 33, of Chicago, faces after being selected to spend 24 hours a day, for an entire month, in the museum as winner of MSI’s Month at the Museum 2 contest.

But Byrne is no stranger to odd situations-for six years he was a “tube talker” for Chicago’s Blue Man Group. “We’d sit backstage and watch patrons through security cameras and we’d talk to them through these tubes (in the lobby),” he explains. “My job was to make small talk, confuse, entertain. I did that for six years. That was the most ridiculously fun job I’ve ever had.”

Now Byrne thinks he might have found another gig that’s just as fun. As he plans his move into “The Cube,” the enclosure where he’ll spend much of his time from Oct. 20-Nov. 28, he took a few minutes to talk with Chicago Parent about what lies ahead.

What’s your goal for your month at the museum?

I think the reach of the program, since there’s so much online to document my experiences-I’ve already gotten message from people in other countries-is getting them excited about the museum and science and engineering. Personally, my goals for myself, I think sometimes as adults you forget to continually challenge yourself and to learn, to really stretch yourself and continue to explore every day.

How do you feel about the lack of privacy?

It’s a lot of together time with everyone. There’s not a lot of privacy, so that will take some getting used to. And even prior, at this point, I haven’t moved in yet but I’ve had people recognize me. Just being on display in a general sense is different than what I’m used to.

Will it be weird to stay overnight by yourself at MSI? Are you the only one in the building?

It’s just security guards and then some evening they have events and they have the Snoozeum (where families stay overnight for one night). …. But nighttime is when I get to explore and that’s what I’m most excited about. (During the day) I’ll be in the cube, that’s the display area. Then I’ll have a private sleeping area, kind of a mini-apartment. But I’ll have a sleeping bag and I can take that wherever I want. Last year, Kate (the previous winner) slept in the U-505 and that’s on my list. I want to sleep in the old el cars. I’m gradually building up my list but I’ll play it by ear once I’m there.

And when you’re there you’ll be blogging about it?

I’m already on Facebook and Twitter, msikevin on those. At monthatthemuseum.org, I’ll post my blog and take a lot of video posts and that will start when I move in. …I would love this to be as interactive as possible. I’m going into the experience with a blank slate and would love to have suggestions from everyone, visitors and people online giving their suggestions.

What are you bringing from home?

I’m allowed to bring two standard suitcases. Thankfully, I don’t have to decide what to wear. They provide me with 30 T-shirts at the beginning of the month counting down the days. … I decided, in addition to the essentials, I need a robe because my private room isn’t near the shower, so for everyone’s benefit having a robe will be a good move.

Can you leave the museum?

I have some appearances outside the museum. I can leave for those.

Are you going to have your cell phone?

No, and I’m going to have the phantom feeling on my leg. There’s limited to no contact with the outside world.

I have to ask, have you watched the Night at the Museum movies?

I just bought them at Target over the weekend. I plan on watching them before I move in, or maybe I’ll have a movie night once I get there.

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