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Meet the heritage team - Ask a Museum Day 2022

For Ask a Museum Day this year we wanted to introduce you to our heritage team! Are you curious to know what it is like to work in a museum? Our team have answered questions just like this to give you an insight into their work, as well as some fun questions like whether or not our museum is haunted… Keep reading to find out!

Meet our Heritage Manager Natasha!

Natasha preparing the manikins for our exhibition "Celebrating our Connections with Japan"

What does your typical day look like?

My role is to oversee the heritage and curatorial collection team, as well as the volunteers who assist with our digitisation project. My day typical involves researching information for the museum’s heritage works, such as station and brigade centenaries, object labels and exhibitions. I also respond to research enquiries from the public and assess donations offered to the museum. 

Depending on what the museum is working on, I can also be found preparing for exhibitions or setting up displays with our many objects. As we are a small museum, I also participate in engagement activities that the museum attends or hosts. 

How do you get a job in a museum?

I completed my undergraduate degree in cultural heritage and literature, then went onto complete a Masters Degree at Sydney University in Museum and Heritage Studies. I also volunteered while I was studying. 

What is your museum doing to diversify your collection?

For History Week, the museum announced that it is going to begin actively collecting oral histories. While the museum has an audio archive, we are hoping to add to this with oral histories and the personal perspectives of fire fighters. The museum also has plans to incorporate Indigenous fire management history and perspectives into the museum in the near future. 

What’s on a Curators playlist?

Anything and everything! At the moment I have been listening to Paul Simon, Soundgarden, Ghost, Alice in Chains and Beyonce. 

Do you have any cats in your collection?

Not that I am aware of, but I have two adopted cats and a miniature, longhaired dachshund. 

Meet our “new” Curator Ben!

Ben is pictured here enjoying a ride on one of our heritage vehicles

What does your typical day look like?

As a member of our heritage team, I am involved with doing historical research for our blogs and sourcing photos from our photographic collection. Then I go about writing up the blogs and putting them on our website. I also participate in heritage enquires by either researching or communicating our information with those who have expressed enquires.  


What do you love about your job?

I love being able to get hands on with history and bringing the stories our objects and collections contain to life! We have many vehicles in our collection as a firefighting museum, and I can’t imagine the multitude of tales each of our fire engines must contain. With all the incidents they would have attended whilst they were in service, to all the firefighters that would have sat on the seats, it is a great honour to be a part of the process to share the stories they hold.   


Who is your favourite figure from history?

Queen Hatshepsut of Ancient Egypt. As one of the earliest female pharaohs, her reign and her story is very impressive.  


Is your museum haunted?

It might be! Our museum is in an old heritage listed power station that dates back to the 50’s. In such a large and grand building sounds tend to travel quite easily and at times, though it might just be the wind, it can certainly make it feel like someone is running around, causing a ruckus in the place!  


Do you collect anything yourself?

I collect crystals and mineral specimens, I am quite fond of the rich variety of crystals out there and think it so cool that various special environmental and elemental conditions can produce such pretty pieces.  

Meet our Assistant Curator Ella!

Ella is seen here looking at one of our Occurrence Books that we have on display

What does a typical day look like?

As an Assistant Curator my job is very varied, my range of tasks include looking after the collection, posting to social media, updating the website, giving tours and fire safety talks, searching our collection (which includes objects, documents, and photos), doing historical research, and assisting with exhibitions, so each day is different which keeps this job exciting! 


What do you love about your job?

There is so much I love about my job! I love working with the collection and accessioning in new objects, being able to handle all of them and learn their story is amazing. It is also just so much fun working at a museum that is filled with fire engines and focuses on the history of firefighting in NSW. We get a lot of children visiting us and to see the excitement and joy on their face when they see all the fire engines is amazing, it will always put a smile on your face.  What’s your favourite museum to visit other than your own?

It's hard to pick just one museum outside of my own that is my favourite, but I think I’ll have to go for Rouse Hill Estate. I love house museums and historic buildings and I love the way they have preserved several layers of history spanning decades on one site.  

Do you collect anything yourself? I have a decent collection of Pop Vinyl figures ranging from, DC and Marvel, to Star Wars and a few from Buffy and Doctor Who. I also collect a lot of my family’s photos and negatives that I have digitized and stored in archive boxes, and I have many film cameras I have collected over the years. 

What’s on a Curators playlist? I love to listen to Double J while I work, especially Desko with Zan Rowe on a Friday morning – that segment always puts me in a great mood! 

Meet two of our volunteers Pat and Chris!

Pat:

What does your typical day look like?

A typical day for me is staring at box after box of scanned documents. The Museum is ensuring history is not lost in digitizing all documents related to the NSW Fire Brigade. I check the scans and connect them to PDF files. 


What’s your favourite museum to visit other than your own?

Other than the Museum of Fire I love visiting the National War Museum. There is as much history there and a very good reminder of why we should be thankful to those who went to war. 

Do you collect anything yourself?

If it has anything to do with South Sydney Rugby League team I will collect it. GO THE BUNNIES! 


If you could live at any time, what year would you choose?

I am lucky because I would choose the time I have lived in. It was a time of discovery and where people respected each other and even enjoyed a joke or 2. 


Chris:

What does your typical day look like?

My typical day involves researching various aspects of the history of the Fire Brigades in NSW. This includes searching the Brigades documents housed at the Museum, digitizing documents and Trove – the Australian online library database and writing up a summary of what I have found. 


What do you love about volunteering?

I enjoy doing research so volunteering at the museum enables me to do something that I love. 


What’s your favorite museum to visit other than your own?

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra. 


You collect anything yourself?

I’m in the process of collecting information on my family tree. 


Who is your favourite artist?

Pablo Picasso 


Why are museums important?

Museums are important as they preserve aspects from the past. 

Thank you to our heritage team and volunteers for answering all these questions giving an insight into what it is like to work at a museum! Make sure to tune into Ask a Museum Day at 12pm live over on Facebook tomorrow (Wednesday 14th September) or if you are reading this afterwards thanks for tuning into Ask a Museum Day and we look forward to seeing you back here again next year. You can also see our previous years by following this link Ask A Curator Day | museum-of-fire (museumoffire.net)

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