Where's the Fire?

Take a journey through the history of firefighting in America!

Where's the Fire? will explore fire-fighting from the American Revolution through the end of the 20th century with a variety of remarkable objects from the firefighting collections of the National Museum of American History. Highlighting an impressive array of model fire trucks, the exhibition will also include historic firefighting equipment: axes, torches, buckets, helmets, trumpets, parade hats, rattles, and much more. Beautifully-rendered illustrations reveal the enduring rich history and immense pride of the men (and women) who fight fires.

Learn what role firemen played in civic, social, and political life (from early volunteer firefighters to members of the first municipal fire department). Discover how major historical fires like the Chicago Fire of 1871 reflect the successes, limitations, and innovations of firefighting at the time.

This hot exhibition highlights firefighters themselves, whether the average citizen with a bucket in 1750 or the uniformed volunteer manning the latest pumper in 1850. Following an introductory gateway featuring images of firefighters throughout American history, four sections follow: firefighting in the 18th, the early 19th, the late 19th and the 20th centuries. Each section documents a specific historical fire and specific firefighter, allowing the visitor to make direct connections to a real-life event. Where's the Fire? A Journey Through American Firefighting has enormous appeal for any museum or community wishing to explore firefighting history and honor our brave firemen.

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Exhibition specifications

Contents Approximately 40 objects, featuring model fire trucks and firefighting equipment including axes, helmets, buckets, trumpets, coats, and parade hats; mechanical interactives
Supplemental Educational and promotional resources
Participation Fee To be determined
Size 3,000-3,500 square feet, est.
Category History & Culture
Security High


SITES Contacts

Katherine Krile, 202.633.3108 (Content/design)
Ed Liskey, 202.633.3142 (Scheduling)

Tour Begins

Fall 2014


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Tour itinerary

Dates   Host Institution Status
      Call for Availability


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Related publications

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Press release

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Exhibition Specifications

Tour Itinerary

Related Publications

Press Release

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