‘Night at the Museum?’ Chicago Resident Settles in for a Month

BY Crispin Lopez  November 18, 2010 at 2:00 PM EDT

Some nights, Kate McGroarty slept in a German submarine. Other nights, in a giant hamster wheel.

Earlier this fall, the 24-year-old Chicago resident beat more than 1,000 applicants to win the “Month at the Museum” contest at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Her award: the ultimate all-access pass to the 14-acre science museum. Meaning she lived there, slept there, and voluntarily trapped herself inside the museum for 30 days.

“I certainly learned a lot more about my level of endurance,” McGroarty said.

By day, when she wasn’t hunting for stray tennis balls in the ceiling, manning the museum’s lunar lander or learning how to dissect an eyeball, she worked in a 16×16-foot Plexiglass room on the main level that she calls “the cube.” But much of her time was simply spent exploring the museum.

“It’s a big enough building that if you’re walking around, you can go a really long time without seeing anybody,” she said.

Thursday is McGroarty’s last day at the museum. She spoke with us earlier this week from her private living quarters, also known as “the nest.