CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) — The end is approaching for Andersonville teacher Kate McGroarty’s month-long stay at the Museum of Science and Industry.
And she’s already growing somewhat wistful.
“It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to a lot of the exhibits,” McGroarty, 24, said. “I see a 727 from my office right now and every morning I wake up and go to work among all of these great, beautifully-decorated Christmas trees.”
Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports there have been no “Night at the Museum” surprises, just people cleaning and working on exhibits off-hours, many of whom she has come to know and like.
She has a special fondness for the 727 airliner and the museum’s collections department, which she calls “a cross between the greatest attic in America and a playground for history nerds like me.”
At first, the thought of sleeping aboard the museum’s U-505 submarine gave her the creeps, but she said it ended up being “quite cozy.”
McGroarty has slept in several different locations in the museum, but she has living quarters on the second floor of the museum in which she has spent most of her nights. She refers to it as her “nest.” She spends much of her days in the “cube,” just off of the museum’s rotunda. The rotunda itself is her “living room.”
Since the project began on Oct. 20, McGroarty has been keeping a blog documenting her experiences – from joining fifth graders in environmental science experiments to collecting stray tennis balls from the ceiling in the Science Storms exhibit.
She dissected the eyeball of a cow and attended a fancy fundraising ball in the very same day. And she even got to bring in a batch of fertilized eggs that later hatched in the Baby Chick Hatchery.
The blog documents McGroarty’s take on everything from reminiscing about her love for the Muppets as she toured the temporary “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” exhibit, to watching “Frankenstein” in the Yesterday’s Main Street nickelodeon around Halloween, and feeling “like a complete nerd when I started explaining the evolution of acting styles to the person sitting next to me.”
And McGroarty’s blog also offers a peek into a side of the museum that most of us may never get to see. In the staff offices at Halloween, she walked through a haunted house in one of the staff department offices that she called “TERRIFYING.” She included a picture of herself looking down into the museum rotunda from the top of the iconic dome, and staring into the eyes of a larger-than-life-size Paul Bunyan mannequin from a past exhibit.
She even got to watch the sunrise from the top of the museum.
“There is not a SINGLE day that goes by here for me that feels ‘normal’ or ‘ routine,'” she wrote in the blog this past Wednesday. “Every single day I get to go to new workshops, meet new people, learn new things, see new parts of the building, laugh at hilarious things people say, observe visitors, try new things… I could go on and on, but you get the idea.”
Friends several weeks ago began to catch McGroarty referring to the museum as “home.”
“I guess it really is home now,” she said Monday.
She will have plenty of mementos, beginning with the 31 orange T-shirts, each with a different day imprinted on it, and her name on the back.
McGroarty’s final duty will be to open the museum’s 69th annual exhibit of Christmas trees from around the world, on Wednesday.