• Museum of Fire Heritage Team

Creating an Art Exhibition - Museum of Fire 2020 Art Competition


The Museum's newest exhibition

The Museum recently opened our newest exhibition, an art gallery space featuring 30 artworks by children from across Australia.


If you have visited the Museum before then you will be aware of how much has changed to create this new gallery space.


For the Museum’s curatorial team, the possibility of changing and adapting the Museum’s aging displays was met with excitement. Despite being a mammoth task that brought with it many challenges the team decided to tackle to the project head on and everyone was pleased with the outcome.


But how do you take an aging display and create a modern gallery space?


Firstly, you need a dedicated team who won’t take failure as an option and a devoted group of volunteers to help turn the team’s vision into reality.

The original display that has now been replaced

The space chosen to house the new gallery space was the hallway at the front of the Museum. Until recently this hallway featured information about the causes of fire and whilst this is important information the Museum’s team felt that there were better ways to display this material.


With the team focusing on having the art gallery space ready for summer, this new display on fire has not yet been installed but keep following the Museum on social media and you will see when our new exhibit opens.


Once the team had selected the site for the art gallery the Museum’s volunteers were set to work stripping the existing displays. The displays had been in place for so long that no one knew what was on the wall underneath, so everyone held their breath as the displays came down. Luckily for the most part the walls were in good condition however in one instance our volunteers did have to create a false wall to ensure the stability and use of the space.


Up next were several coats of paint followed by the difficult decision of what shade of white/grey to paint the walls!


The Museum’s curatorial team then worked with a local sign printer to create the text that would adorn the entry to the gallery space.

Painting the new gallery space

Before the team had even conceived the gallery space the Museum had begun hosting the 2020 Art Competition. As we were unsure of the number of entries we would receive we had no specific plan in mind but as the entries continued to come in the art gallery space began to take shape. Entries closed on the 30 November 2020 and on Friday 27 November we had around 50 entries. By close of business on Monday 30 November this number had doubled causing the Museum’s team to work overtime to process all of the entries.


We have been blown away by the caliber of the work produced by student’s across Australia so when it came time for the Museum’s curatorial team to pick just 30 entries out of over 100 it was a difficult task. To help select the 30 finalists our team focused upon the works that met the criteria of the competition bets – bushfires and paying tribute to our brave firefighters who battled the 2019-2020 bushfires.


Once the team had selected these 30 entries, they set about hanging the exhibition to be ready to open to the public on Saturday 19 December 2020. Judging for the exhibition took place prior to this with the winners to be announced on Thursday 21 January 2021.

Pictured above: Members of the Museum's Curatorial team select the 30 short listed entries (left) and the team hang the new exhibition (right).


Voting for the People’s Choice Award is still open in the Museum until the 15 January 2021. If you can’t make it into the Museum to vote, then you will have the opportunity to vote digitally next week from Monday 4th January 2021 until Monday 11th January 2021 (4pm).


Our team would like to say thank you to our major sponsor, Fire and Rescue NSW for helping to make this competition possible.


A sneak peak of the new exhibition & art gallery at the Museum of Fire

The exhibition will run over Summer so make sure you don't miss seeing some of our amazing junior artists!


Due to the success of the competition, we are pleased to announce that the Museum will be hosting the competition again in 2021! The topic will be announced at the awards ceremony on the 21 January 2021 however entries will not be accepted until November 2021.


What is a Curator?

In the above story the term curator and curatorial team is frequently used. One of the most common questions asked is “what is a curator?”, so we thought we should include this definition.


A curator is the person tasked with managing a Museum’s collection. It is their responsibility to ensure its safety, conservation and development. A curator is the person who designs a Museum’s exhibits and oversees the collecting activities of the Museum.



Until Friday 15th January 2021 visitors can vote for the People's Choice Award! The prize is $100 Museum voucher, personal trophy and an art prize valued at $50!


Other prizes that will be announced on 21 January 2021 are:


1st prize - $300 Museum Voucher, perpetual trophy (plus personal trophy to keep), art prize valued at $70 AND your artwork will become part of the Museum's permanent collection


2nd prize - $200 Museum voucher, personal trophy and a art prize valued at $60


Highly Commended (x5) - $50 Museum vouchers


AND a special Commissioner's Award presented by FRNSW Commissioner Paul Baxter.


Digitally voting opens soon! Keep your eye on this page for more: https://www.museumoffire.net/museum-of-fire-art-comp


-Story by the Museum of Fire's Curatorial Team

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1 Museum Drive, Penrith, NSW 

Tel (02) 4731 3000