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November 1, 2011

11/02/11  He’s been a Blue Man Group “tube talker,” ridden solo across country on a bicycle, immersed himself in the science of salamanders and now he’s on to the next adventure: a month living at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI).

Kevin Byrne, 33, of Chicago is the winner of the MSI’s Month at the Museum 2 contest. A digital media analyst with a degree in biology living in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, Kevin was selected from nearly 1,000 entries and a final group of six finalists to LIVE in the Museum 24/7 for 30 days, share his experience with the public via a blog and social media, and take home a $10,000 prize. The announcement was made live at the Museum on Oct. 5, 2011 with all six finalists in attendance—and with the help of an explosive chemistry experiment.

The six finalists performed a seemingly identical experiment with a pumpkin in front of a packed Museum Rotunda—but only Kevin’s experiment, lighting a hydrogen-filled balloon inside a pumpkin elicited an explosion, revealing him as the Month at the Museum winner.

The remaining five competition finalists— Katie Duff of Frankfort, Ill.; Dale Fiste of Malden, Ill.; Motoko Maegawa of Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.; Dave Mosher of New York City; and Mike Wilson of Faringdon, England—received MSI appreciation gift packages and the surprise of an overnight adventure at MSI during Month at the Museum 2.

“For the second year, the judging panel faced a very difficult decision,” said Rob Gallas, vice president and chief marketing officer at the Museum of Science and Industry. “We had such an amazing group of finalists who all brought different talents and perspectives to the table. But in the end, we were all impressed with Kevin’s ability to tell a story, convey his ideas and enthusiasm, and try anything in the name of science. We know that anyone who follows along in Kevin’s adventure at will see science, and the Museum, in a new way.”

A native of Roanoke, Va., Kevin attended the College of William and Mary, majoring in biology, before he headed to the Windy City. He obtained a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from Northwestern University and now works as a digital media analyst. But underneath that business background is a true science enthusiast and adventurer. He describes himself as “eclectic, driven and adventurous”; and he’s clearly someone who’s up for anything and interested in everything. He’s biked across the country by himself, trained in the circus arts, spent two months in the mountains of Virginia studying red-backed salamanders and is currently training for his sixth marathon for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. With his Month at the Museum, he’s ready to rekindle his undergrad passion for science, embrace this opportunity to step out of his routine and help others do the same!

Kevin will have 30 days to explore all the nooks and crannies of the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere. He’ll get unique views of MSI’s exhibits and experiences, and with special “themed” days and field trips, he’ll learn how they relate to science in the outside world. Then he’ll be able to share his newfound knowledge with guests in the building and online through blogs, videos, photos and social media posts. The public can begin following along now as our future roommate prepares for his monthlong adventure, visit to link to Kevin’s Month at the Museum Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The Judging Process

Applications were received in mid-August, countless hours were spent by Museum judges to narrow down the pool to fewer than 20 semi-finalists. Those quarter-finalists went through phone interviews and a smaller pool came to Chicago for in-person meetings. An online vote, which helped MSI select the winner, was held from Sept. 27 through Oct. 3, 2011.

The Perks Package

As if getting to live in the Museum for 30 days wasn’t cool enough, Kevin will be treated to sleek and modern living accommodations, delicious meals and a technology package he gets to keep.  Both the winner’s office and private sleeping quarters will be designed and furnished by CB2. Sodexo Leisure Services, the Museum’s exclusive caterer, will provide the winner with breakfast and lunch daily, while Whole Foods Market will provide dinner and snacks.  And the technology package to document the entire experiment is provided by Best Buy and supported by Geek Squad.

About 2010’s Month at the Museum

The Museum of Science and Industry’s 2010 experiment, Month at the Museum, caught the imagination of people around the world. MSI picked one curious, adventuresome individual—24-year-old Kate McGroarty—to live at the largest science center in the Western Hemisphere 24/7 for 30 days and win $10,000. From Oct. 20 – Nov. 18, 2010, Kate experienced hundreds of amazing exhibits, explored MSI’s nooks and crannies, and even slept in a World War II submarine.  She experimented, dissected, unearthed, discovered—and shared her adventures with guests at MSI and online.

The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) offers thousands of fun and interactive exhibits and one-of-a-kind, world-class experiences to inspire the inventive genius in everyone. Through its Center for the Advancement of Science Education, MSI also aspires to a larger vision: to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in science, technology, medicine and engineering. Come visit and find your inspiration! MSI is open every day except December 25, and regular hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Museum is supported in part through the generosity of the people of Chicago through the Chicago Park District. For more information, find MSI online at or call (773) 684-1414 or (800) GO-TO-MSI outside of the Chicago area.