Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Night in the Museum or A Variant on the 30-days

When I was in elementary school we lived in a small town outside of Chicago. The local rec department had a terrific summer program, drop-in arts & crafts, boating lessons and field trips galore. My favorite trips (besides the outings to Cubs' games) were to the Museum of Science and Industry - what I called the "push-button" museum for all the interactive exhibits. I could go again and again...and did. We were on our own in the museum, something that is probably unthinkable in these hypervigilant days, trusted to return on time to our yellow school bus for the long trip back home.

When I read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler I didn't dream of running away to the Met in New York, I dreamed of hiding out in the Museum of Science and Industry. I would have slept in the U-boat.

My brother Geek Guru (who I think I could have counted on to be my co-conspirator in such an adventure) sent me an announcement for a competition to spend a month living in my all time favorite museum. The ground rules, oddly enough, are much like the 30-days: limited communications (no cell phone, but blogging encouraged), sleeping in small and odd spaces. Though instead of days of silent meditation hidden away, you essentially become an interactive exhibit.

Alas, I'm not on sabbatical, and am so committed for the fall that there is no way I could go, even if I could survive the competition. But a girl can dream, can't she?

Photo of The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL. Photographed 9 April 2006. © Jeremy Atherton, 2006. Used under CC license.

A version of this is cross-posted at Culture of Chemistry.


  1. I was so obsessed with From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler as a kid. (And still, if I'm going to be honest.) I was a spendthrift, too, and daydreamed pretty much endlessly about the adventure of sneakily living in a museum for a month. In fact, even now, when I walk into a public bathroom stall I regularly think about them pulling up their feet to avoid being discovered by the guards...

    I love MSI, too, though not quite as much as the Field. But I definitely have work (and personal) commitments for Oct-Nov. It'll be interesting to see what they do with this PR stunt!

  2. kb - I'm so glad I'm not the only one who remembers Claudia in a bathroom stall.

    They'd have to leave their cell phones home these days or they'd be caught in an instant :)

  3. Love the Museum of Science and Industry. Love The Mixed-Up Files. I have NO commitments this fall. Hmm......