Do you ever wonder what it would be like to live in a museum?
IMC (’10) alumnus Kevin Byrne, the winner of the second Month at the Museum contest, will have that opportunity to take up residence in Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry for 30 days beginning Oct. 19.
The Month at the Museum is an annual contest to allows someone to live in a museum for a month, exploring and discovering every aspect of the museum during all hours of the day and night. Byrne is the second Northwestern alumni to be selected after Communication (’08) alumnus Kate McGroarty won the first competition last year. He will be reporting about his experience through his blog, Facebook and Twitter, amongst other media outlets.
North by Northwestern got a chance to talk to Byrne about his adventure in the museum, science and being an astronaut.
Q: How did you feel when you won Month at the Museum?
A: The winner was announced through a live event at MSI. I was extremely excited and nervous about the possibility of winning the contest. My heart was pounding but when the winner was revealed through an exploding pumpkin, I nearly had a heart attack. I was completely shocked. The pictures of the announcement are pretty hilarious; my expression is ridiculous.
Q: What inspired you to want to live in the museum?
A: As an adult, how often can set aside your everyday routine and pour yourself entirely into something new? With MATM, I’ll get to live science everyday and help to get other people excited about the topic too. I can’t think of a more worthwhile experience. I plan to make the most of every minute.
Q: What do you look forward to most about this experience?
A: I look forward to the chance to share my experiences and enthusiasm with others to help get others excited about science. I’d love for people to engage with the program – either in person or by participating through social media.
Q: What do you hope to gain from this experience?
A: Through this experience I hope to remind myself to have fun learning every single day. It’s easy to get caught in the daily grind and forget to be mindful of the amazing world in which we live. Spending a month immersed in an environment of engaged learning would remind me to live my life in the same way: hands-on and wide-eyed.
Q: When did you become interested in science?
A: My interest in science started when I was a kid. Twenty-some years later, I can still remember my first trip to a science museum. In high school, I went to a magnet school for math and science and was a biology major at the College of William & Mary.
Q: Did any science classes at Northwestern University spark your interest?
A: Most of the classes that I took at NU were for the Integrated Marketing Communications graduate program. I took a couple of design classes too, just for fun. So, no science classes at Northwestern but a variety of communications, statistics and marketing classes.
Q: What are some other exciting adventures you've had?
A: In 2009, my friend and I travelled to New Zealand to live in a campervan for two weeks. We had no agenda; we just explored. At the end of the day, we’d pull over and sleep in the van for the night. I hiked a glacier, saw a kiwi bird and went to a sock machine museum. It was awesome.
Q: When you were 7, what was your dream job?
A: Every school report that I did in elementary school was about Neil Armstrong, so I was clearly interested in being an astronaut. But I also remember wanting to be a mailman. Or a doctor.
Q: If you could choose one word to describe yourself, what would it be?
A: Driven. I’m not one to sit around; I’m always up to something.
Q: What is your biggest regret?
A: Hmm… that’s tough. I’ve definitely had experiences that I didn’t particularly love at the time, but looking back, I wouldn’t trade them. I do my best to learn from everything I go through.
Q: What is your most memorable experience at Northwestern?
A: Wow. I’ve had so many amazing ones. Between my years working in the undergraduate admission office and the IMC program, I have nearly ten years worth of experiences to choose from. As part of my masters program, I got to travel to Asia to visit companies and learn about marketing in Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo. The trip taught me much more than just marketing; it was amazing.