chicago museum of science and industry

STEADY NERVES: The freedom to explore, play and even sleep within the exhibits and spaces of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry was surely an Awesome and unforgettable experience for Kate McGroarty! She is one of the very few who will ever have this kind of opportunity, and now she’s much wiser to the rigors, privileges and pitfalls of fame. Nice!

WORLD OF WONDER: The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry is one of the world’s largest museums with nearly 14 acres of exhibits. It opened in 1933 and boasts one of the world’s most impressive collection of exhibits including the Apollo 8 command module, the U-boat submarine, planes, trains and various automobiles, and even its very own coal mine. On top of that impressive line-up, and in addition to thousands upon thousands of smaller artifacts, the museum continues to update its offerings with some very timely and “with it” exhibits, from the Smart Home to “Science Storms,” which features a towering simulated tornado. Not bad. There are also parties and corporate events, and even “slumber parties” for dozens of kids and their parents.

RARE OPPORTUNITY: But in response to flagging enthusiasm, curators and staff conducted a somewhat scientific experiment of their own by offering one lucky person a chance to take up residence amid the exhibits for a month, with a $10,000 prize to boot. The museum’s president and CEO, David Mosena felt the adventure would project a renewed sense of wonder and interest for the museum, and Rob Gallas, the museum’s chief marketing officer, was betting on the more commercial side of things. Anyone could apply for the opportunity by submitting an application, 60-second video and a 500 word essay, and after receiving about 1,500 applications five finalists were chosen. After references, backgrounds and psychological temperaments were checked thoroughly, Kate McGroarty of Northside Chicago came out on top.

PLAY FOR DISPLAY: She saw the opportunity as an excellent way to put her NU theater degree and her skills in writing and teaching good use while getting people excited about learning in this awesome museum. And surely the $10,000 would supplement her side-job income as she pursued her career in theatre.

EXHIBIT #1: During her month-long residency in the CMoSI, McGroarty was something akin to a human exhibit, spending much of her time in a glass office on the museum’s main floor where she would greet museum guests and do much of her blogging on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Other than that, the museum would keep her busy dealing with the crush of media, answering questions from museum-goers, responding to social media requests, accompanying schoolchildren to science learning labs and sometimes wandering the museum with her friends.

SHUT-EYE ON DISPLAY? Kate’s Minnesotan parents think the job fits perfectly with her high-energy personality and natural curiosity. But with all the high energy output, McGroarty’s secret little “nest” offers quite and rest to recharge her batteries during the day. At night, when everyone has gone and the lights are turned low and the museum is quiet once again, Kate looks for a cozy spot, be it on the giant hamster wheel, the WWII submarine or on the Smart Home exhibit’s “eco-friendly” bed to slip into a well-earned slumber.

GHOSTS & ASTRONAUTS: Some of her most remarkable and memorable experiences include doing a handstand in the simulated tornado and having breakfast with astronaut Jim Lovell, who gave her a personal tour of the Apollo 8 module. Kate won’t let on whether or not the museum is haunted, but she does avoid the old circus exhibits during the dark hours. And each morning she is greeted by the coal mine whistle, circus music and the recorded voices that will delight and enlighten the day’s visitors. One thing is for sure: Kate McGroarty’s will never forget her month in the Museum, and neither will the rest of us.

S O C i A L L Y    S P E A K I N G

CNN: “I grew up about 15 years in Northern Ill, and LOVED going to CMSI. There is NO other museum like it in the world. NONE. Many that imitate, but still do not come close.” – windbourne

The Blaze: “This is so cool. I could never do it. Too much of a wimp.” – dontbotherme

YouTube: “No wonder you won! Thanks for being such a great hostess” – Tmidiman

–  W O R T H Y    F U N D R A i S E R S  –

VetAir: Vet Air transport service is available to all American Veterans who would be suffer financially, cannot make other arrangements or need quicker transport to their VHA health care facilities,

The American Veteran Transportation Endowment: This Catalyst Endowment Fundraiser will help American Veterans across our nation and around the world who require assistance in making arrangements and paying for burdensome transportation services.

M O R E    R E S O U R C E S