On Display: Exhibitions and Collections
The Museum’s second floor parade exhibit features lavishly decorated hand pumpers.
The New York City Fire Museum houses one of the nation's most important collections of fire related art and artifacts from the late 18th century onward. Our two exhibit floors trace the development of firefighting in New York from the early bucket brigades to the present day. On the second floor, the “romance of firefighting” is shown through paintings and prints from the volunteer era. Displayed as if on parade are striking examples of elaborate hand-drawn and hand-pumped engines, including a piano box style engine, a goose neck pumper, and a double-decker Philadelphia style engine which, aside from being used to fight fire, was at the opening celebration of the Statue of Liberty.
On the first floor, visitors will see a horse-drawn ladder wagon, early rescue gear and breathing equipment, alarm boxes from various eras, and motorized vehicles, such as a 1921 American La France engine, all of which give a sense of what firefighting was like at different times in the city's paid department era. Also on display are tools and clothing used by modern firefighters. The transition from turnout coats to all-encompassing bunker gear is shown on a series of mannequins. Tools, such as the Halligan forcible entry tool and the Jaws of Life, show visitors what it is like to be a firefighter.
The NYCFM also addresses the history of fire insurance through our collection of over 2,000 fire marks - fire insurance company advertising emblems. As is the case with our other artwork and objects, we have such an extensive amount that only a small portion is on exhibit at one time. The rest is held in storage for use in temporary exhibits or for study by historians and other researchers.
Displayed are objects that document the history of the volunteer and paid departments, from painted leather buckets to early motorized apparatus. A separate memorial exhibit honors the 343 members of FDNY-EMS who made the Supreme Sacrifice on September 11, 2001. More
Created as an Eagle Scout project and in memory of deceased family members, this case was presented to the NYCFM and houses the Halligan tool, one of the most popular forcible entry tools amongst firefighters. The original tool, created by Chief Hugh Halligan, is displayed in the center and contains his signature and maker's mark to indicate authenticity and trademark. More
Many of our objects cannot be displayed permanently because of preservation concerns or lack of space in the galleries. Our online database contains records and photos of our objects in storage and is continually expanding. Visit our catalog to get a glimpse of the collection not on display. Go to Catalog