Those whimsical notions launched the "Night at the Museum" movies. Now a young Chicago woman gets to find out what it's really like to spend a night in a museum.
Or make that a whole month.
Kate McGroarty, a 24-year-old theater artist, won that privilege in a contest sponsored by Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. She beat 1,500 other applicants from around the world for the chance to spend 28 days, from October 20 to November 18, living in the vast museum.
"This is completely unchartered territory," McGroarty told ABC News. "People have gone to the moon but no one has lived in this museum for a whole month. And I am the first person who gets to do that, and that's very exciting to me."
She will have access to all the exhibits -- and while dinosaur bones aren't among them (Chicago has a natural history museum a couple of miles away for that), she could bed down in anything from a World War II German submarine to a coal mine to a diesel-electric passenger train.
She is looking forward to having free rein of the place: "I'm going to sleep in the submarine. I might do a personal cartwheel contest down the Main Street (exhibit). Man, if I could have a skateboard that would be unending fun."
McGroarty will be something of an exhibit herself. During her month-long stay, she'll interact with museum visitors and will blog, tweet and post videos about her experience. So if the human body models come to life or if the submarine is haunted, we'll all hear about it.
Once she completes her stay, she will also receive $10,000. She and the museum see her new role as educational: "I hope I make science look fun. And make it look desirable to learn about. I hope people come here and meet me and see how much fun I'm having living in a place like this and they can say maybe that's something I want to study more in school or maybe I'll pay more attention in my science class."
Like all the contestants, McGroarty created a video as part of her application. After the museum winnowed down the 1,500 applications to five finalists, the public voted for the winner.
While the institution denies a connection to the "Night at the Museum" movies, it knows people have that in mind. McGroarty will be a temporary roommate for 35,000 artifacts housed in the 120-year-old building. Who knows if they have been lonely?