• Museum of Fire Heritage Team

What is History Good For?

Thank you to everyone who has supported the Museum for History Week 2020! This was a new concept for the Museum but given the topic was “what is history good for?” we could hardly pass up the opportunity to showcase history as we continue to rebuild after the COVID closure and loss of our CEO Mark White.


We had been rebuilding slowly but in the few weeks before History Week we were hit by the Government decision to halt all school excursions. Whilst we all understand and support the decision, this has impacted the Museum greatly given we rely on school excursions as a source of income.


Luckily for us, History Week has helped soften this blow.


Across nine days we hosted 7 different activities, four live video streaming sessions, three physical events and countless other opportunities for the public to engage with us.


I am pleased to say that every activity and event we hosted was met with a great response. We had no expectations for the week and were incredibly pleased with how it all panned out.


From special discounted entry rates, guided tours and onsite events to digital trivia, pre-recorded history pieces and a live-streamed keynote presentation it was a mammoth week that all our staff are proud of. Without the dedicated work of our staff and volunteers who gave up their time to help with the week we would not have been able to undertake what we do so as the CEO I can only say thank you to the Museum’s amazing team!


One of the things we trialled during History Week was live streaming some of our activities. As part of this, we live streamed our keynote presentation, a trivia competition, a question, and answer session with members of the heritage team and one of the historic recreations of firefighting. None of our team had ever tried this before so it was a learning curve, but we were incredibly happy with the response from the public.


One thing that became clear through having these live streamed events were that there are a lot of people out there who want to be involved with the Museum but due to distance or the current restrictions this is not possible so by having these live events they felt included in the Museum’s activities. See our website for more https://www.museumoffire.net/history-week-2020


Pictured here are a few snaps from History Week 2020 (click the arrows for more)

Due to the success of these events we therefore made the decision to take part in #AskACuratorDay


We had already been promoting the day to schools with a 30-minute virtual excursion offer where our curatorial team talk directly to students about what the Museum does and more specifically what a curator is.

For those who do not know, a curator is a museum’s unsung hero. Curators are rarely seen by the public as most of their work tends to be behind the scenes, but it is a Curator’s job to take care of a Museum and its collection. Curators oversee the cataloguing, recording and storage of the collection as well as new displays and exhibits.


Given few people really know what a curator does it was great that we were able to share some of the lesser known aspects of the Museum for #AskACuratorDay with both school students and the public. One way that we shared the day with the public was to host another live stream. This time the focus was on our team and as a former Curator myself I enjoyed being able to help showcase what the Museum does. See our website for more https://www.museumoffire.net/ask-a-curator-day



If you missed out on History week don’t worry as we have even more fun coming these school holidays! School may be out, but teachers are in! To celebrate the role teachers play we are offering FREE entry for teachers each Thursday of the school holidays (1st and 8th October) Plus on these days members of Fire and Rescue NSW will also be on site with free giveaways and live demonstrations! See the flyer for more information.


Before I finish this blog, I’d like to share a story from a member of the public that was communicated with our team during History Week. We love hearing your stories and memories so when they include the Museum, we get very excited. One of the people who visited during history week was kind enough to share this memory, so I thought it worthwhile to feature. Please enjoy Rob’s story below and I look forward to sharing more history with you during the school holidays but remember the Museum is open 7 days a week!


Recollections of my 10th Birthday at the Museum of Fire:
It was 26 years ago on my 10th birthday when I last visited the Museum of Fire. We took photos in fire engines and it was a memorable birthday for not just myself but in my family. To this day my aunt reminisces as she drives past the entrance. Today (September 5, 2020) I had the chance to visit again. This time I could appreciate the history of firefighting as much as the engines. Upon my arrival and striking a conversation at the entrance with the staff about my last visit they set about locating the appliance I had climbed on back then. This time it was out of the public display, and I very much appreciate the effort of all staff for their assistance in recreating a moment 26 years on. Pictured here is 1994 and 2020. I'm on the back on the ladder, and my cousin is to the left on the seat. Thank you Museum of Fire staff for helping to recreate such a special memory!

-Belinda McMartin, Museum of Fire Interim CEO



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1 Museum Drive, Penrith, NSW 

Tel (02) 4731 3000