By Sarah Farrow, Volunteer Coordinator
Walking into the Science Museum of Virginia is always exciting. Guests are immediately drawn in by the beautiful dome and pendulum. It’s an instant and powerful way to get people of all ages thinking about science.
If you come to the Science Museum on a Thursday morning chances are you'll be greeted at the pendulum by Gallery Education volunteer Frank Keegan. He’s there to tell guests everything about the pendulum — and they have lots of questions. Many of our Thursday guests are school groups. When they arrive, Frank is immediately surrounded by kids who want information. One of the most frequent questions asked is "What is that white building in the middle?" Frank Keegan tells them, "This is a very important building. It’s where you are right now; it’s the Science Museum!" The kids love this. And they love watching the pegs fall. There’s always a big whoop when one goes down. What a wonderful way for our guests to enter the museum.
Frank Keegan grew up in Ozone Park in New York City. He has always enjoyed science and has a degree in chemical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. After graduating, he worked as a salesman for Allied Chemical in Baltimore. His territory included Richmond and he always loved coming here. In 1955 Frank decided to go to law school. He worked during the day and attended Georgetown University at night.
For 43 years Frank worked as a patent attorney in Washington D.C., forming his own firm in 1979. After retiring, Frank and his wife moved from Northern Virginia to Richmond to be closer to their children. He liked to bring his two grandchildren to the Science Museum and was always fascinated and impressed by the cow-eye dissection and by David Olli, director of Gallery Education, who performed the dissection. One day, after visiting the Science Museum to see the "Titanic" exhibit, Frank’s family encouraged him to become a volunteer. He thought, "why not?" The rest is history. Frank immediately became part of the museum.
Not only does Frank greet guests and help them understand the pendulum, he also likes to do the Air Pressure and the Static Electricity demonstrations. He is also very willing to help out wherever needed; sometimes preparing materials for Wonderplace projects or hauling coolers to help set up for big events. Frank is also on the Science Museum Volunteer Association board.
Frank's greatest and most memorable volunteering experience at the Science Museum is a simple one. Two little girls grabbed him around the legs and gave him a big "thank you" on their way out of the building. He asked their teacher if they had been told to say this, and was told that the girls were being completely spontaneous. It made Frank feel that he’s really helping to make a difference in the lives of children. And Frank is right. A few weeks later he received a wonderful thank-you package from the entire class, with letters and drawings all made for him. This is what makes volunteering worthwhile for Frank Keegan.