I write this blog feeling very tired but incredibly proud of the effort put forth by the Museum team over the past few weeks.
For the first time, the Museum’s newly formed team attended the Sydney Royal Easter Show. We were invited to attend alongside Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) and it was an opportunity we could not pass up! Forming part of the FRNSW exhibit, the Museum presented two heritage vehicles (a Dennis ‘Jag’ and an ‘Ace’), and had a pop-up shop on site. As this was an event we hadn’t attend before, we were unsure what to expect.
Our team members were able to engage with a whole new audience and introduce potential visitors to what we have on offer in Penrith. The timing of this event was perfect as there was still one week of the school holidays left and parents/guardians were looking for activities for their children after the show had ended.
Within days of our team visiting the show, we began to see the effects with new and increased visitation to the Museum. We are blown away by the support we have and continue to receive – it is beyond what we could have ever imagined.
The Museum is now also able to accept Dine and Discover NSW vouchers. This recently launched program by the NSW Government has no doubt contributed to the increased visitation we can see passing through our doors. These vouchers are valid until 30 June 2021, so if you haven’t visited already and want to ‘Discover’ the Museum, make sure you do so by the end of June!
While the Royal Easter Show was in full swing, our team split up so that they could also attend the YAMHS “Cars that Care” event on 11 April at Luddenham. Our brilliant volunteer, Reg, brought along his Dennis 250 for the show, which I am delighted to tell you was the only fire engine there! The Museum is proud to have been involved in this event with all funds going towards supporting local mental health projects.
On top of an already busy school holiday period, we hosted four “Monopoly Days” where we put our giant Monopoly board outside and invited guests to play. Due to the popularity of this activity, we are planning on hosting more “Monopoly Days” in the future.
Although the school holidays are now over, our team are not resting as they head out to the Hawkesbury Show (23rd-25th April) and we kick start the month-long Heritage Festival at the Museum. If you would like to see what we have planned for the Heritage Festival, please follow this link https://www.museumoffire.net/heritage-festival
The first major event of the month is our Seniors Day that will take place today (Wednesday 21st April). This is the first time we have created a community event like this and we are excited to welcome lots of new patrons to the Museum. The Seniors Day expo is free and we will have a special reduced entry to the Museum available to seniors on the day. To learn more visit https://www.museumoffire.net/nsw-seniors-festival
As the month continues, we will also be launching our new temporary exhibition “Our Heritage” which will feature the winning entries from our history competition for high school students. Our final public event of the month will be a live digital talk that will take place on Sunday 9th May.
As always, our team are keeping very busy and I am thankful every day for their amazing dedication. As a not for profit, registered charity we also rely on the time given by our volunteers, who heavily outnumber our paid staff. One of our volunteers, Colin, recently received a special award from our local MP, the Hon. Stuart Ayres (Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney) for his dedication to the Museum over many years.
For the application, our Curator wrote:
Colin is one of the Museum of Fire’s dedicated volunteers. He is the lead volunteer of the vehicle workshop and grounds maintenance team. As the Museum’s Curator, I work closely with Colin on a variety of tasks; from vehicle restoration through to exhibition development. He offers assistance to other members of senior staff in areas such as (but not limited to) group visits and tours, events, and general maintenance. He is an integral member of the Museum of Fire team and I am very fortunate to be able to work alongside him.
In 2009, Colin joined the Museum of Fire as a volunteer. His efforts have contributed greatly to the preservation of firefighting heritage and the ongoing operations of our community-supported Museum. When the Museum’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark White AFSM OAM, passed away suddenly last May, Colin remained steadfast in his commitment to the Museum. He took it upon himself to lead the volunteers of the vehicle workshop and grounds maintenance team as Mark had done. It is because of Colin that this important work has continued to run smoothly. In the last year, he has also assisted with the redesign our exhibitions, including the Museum’s new gallery space dedicated to the shortlisted entrants of our 2021 Art Competition. He is the primary guide for our ‘behind the scenes’ tours and fills in for group tours when required. Though his talents are endless, he is a vehicle specialist at heart. Over the twelve years he has been a volunteer, he has been involved in a large number of vehicle projects; ranging from minor conservation works through to complete reconstructions. Colin ensures that our heritage fleet remain operational and he can certainly fix any ‘broken’ fire engine. As part of the Museum’s commitment to offer accessible community experiences, we have been hosting heritage days each quarter. Colin prepares the trucks for inclusion in these events, ensuring that they look their best. Colin will always be a winner in our books – we are so very lucky to have him on our team.
I can’t thank Colin and the other volunteers enough for their commitment to the Museum. If you are considering becoming a volunteer at the Museum, I urge you to visit our website to learn more about our organisation and volunteer roles on offer (https://www.museumoffire.net/volunteering). You can also come down and visit us on Seniors Day at our stall where some of our volunteers will be on hand to discuss why they enjoy volunteering at the Museum.
April is only half-way through and May is looking just as busy for the Museum, so with that in mind please consider visiting the Museum as there is always something new to discover.
-Belinda McMartin, Museum of Fire CEO