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Working from Home - Lockdown 2021

An Update from our CEO Belinda

When our team scheduled a CEO update for this week, we were anticipating a mammoth blog filled with information about all the fun activities coming up at the Museum this month. Sadly, that isn’t the case and I find myself trying to work out exactly what to talk about.

Belinda with Suki and Duke at the Museum (June 2021)

This sounds really negative however it has given me cause to reflect on everything that is still taking place at the Museum and provides me with a great opportunity to answer the question that keeps being asked – what does a museum do when it is closed?

Firstly, heritage and curatorial work continues behind closed doors. Through everything, our curatorial team is responsible for the upkeep and protection of the objects in our collection. This is why I’ve teamed up with our Curator Laura for this week’s blog.

While most of our team have been stood down, our online shop remains open so some of the team are coming into the Museum daily to process all of your orders. I must say that we have been overwhelmed by the support we have received through our online shop so please keep it up as it is what helps pay the bills!

Members of our administration team are also working at home and in the Museum to enable us to pay those bills and to ensure that day-to-day operations continue. Most of our stakeholders have not been impacted to the degree that we have so there is an expectation that work will continue as per normal at the Museum. Ultimately, it is up to our skeleton team to manage their expectations.

To ensure the safety of our team we have a very restricted number of staff on site and only those who can’t work from home are permitted. For this reason, we have new office hours for the month of August, 9am – 12pm. If you require assistance, please call the Museum between those times on weekdays only.

I am so proud of the resilience of our team and how they continue to remain engaged. We have been holding weekly digital trivia where my EA Kate has proved herself to be our supreme trivia champ! This is just one way we continue to support one another during this difficult time.

New research assistants; Duke & Suki (July 2021)

Like so many others, I am working from home most days and I know our mascot Duke and pest specialist Suki are over the moon! If you follow the Museum or myself on social media, you can see all of their antics that can often make working that little bit harder but I am thankful to have their company and on the rare days that I go into the Museum without them I definitely feel their love when I come home.

As we now face another month of keeping our doors closed to the public, we want to ensure everyone remains engaged and to do that we have a few activities coming up. Like normal we will continue to share some great historical content on both our social media and blogs. In addition to this we have THREE live and pre-recorded events planned!

The first is this Saturday afternoon (7 August 2021 at 3pm) where I’ve agreed to answer all of the questions, we keep getting from you all and I’ll do this live. Keep sending in your questions and I’ll answer them then!

In addition to this we are hoping to host TWO curatorial talks. The first will showcase objects from the Museum’s collection and will feature 10-12 images (we’re still deciding on the final line up). The theme of the second of these talks will be shared next week, so stay tuned!

What is very exciting about this first talk is that the images we share will also be presented on our website as a digital exhibition. I can’t wait to share this with you!

Another person who is very excited for this is our Curator Laura! I’ll now hand this blog over to her...

An Update from our Curator Laura

"Curating Through A Closure"

Although the Museum has been closed for just over a month, our curatorial and heritage work keeps moving forward. At present, my days centre around compiling research and writing text for one of four main purposes. Whether I am responding to individual research enquiries, creating new digital content for our social media or blogs, producing history booklets for centenaries or developing exhibitions, I am very fortunate that I can do a lot of the groundwork from the comfort of my own home.

In saying that, I have spent several days at the Museum since the closure was announced. In the early days of lockdown, we saw it as an opportunity to focus our attention and resources on the heritage collection that we care for. Digitisation efforts were brought back into focus, documentation was improved, and dated exhibitions were de-installed (watch this space – I will discuss this process more in the next Curator’s Blog).

Checking in on some of the Museum’s larger collection items (July 2021)

During one of my recent onsite days, I had the pleasure of scanning nine beautiful photographs relating to George Wood Livingston McKinnon and his involvement in the NSW Fire Brigades (now Fire and Rescue NSW). As part of this digitisation project, a brief service record was prepared. This research charted McKinnon’s early days attached to Newtown Fire Station (1921) through to the height of his career as Station Officer at Grafton (1945) and later as Executive Officer (noted interchangeably as Deputy Chief Officer; 1953 - 1958).

This project was made possible by the McKinnon family (a special mention goes to McKinnon’s granddaughter, Susan) and the Captain of Grafton Fire Station, Garry Reardon, who facilitated this conversation and exchange. Once a high-quality digital scan was captured, the photographs were sent back to the family for safekeeping.

A selection of the photographs digitised on behalf of the McKinnon family (July 2021)

Did you know? Uniforms are the most commonly proposed donation items that we receive at the Museum. As we hold such a large number of uniforms, and in line with our updated Collection Management Policy, we cannot accept further duplicates. We do, however, readily accept photographs and documents related to fire service personnel, which can either be donated for the collection or scanned and returned to you.

On behalf of all the Museum of Fire Team we hope everyone is keeping themselves safe and we can't wait to see you back in the Museum very soon!

-Best Wishes from Belinda and Laura


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