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Special Exhibits

Strike Up the Band: A Tribute to the Bands of the Bravest 

On display through Summer 2023

From the creation of the first FDNY band in 1900 through the present day, members of the department have used music to celebrate the achievements of the department in parades and exhibitions, and to mourn their losses at funerals. The first band in the department was formed in 1900, but only lasted a few years. In 1913, a full marching band was organized, and appeared in parades throughout the city, while also traveling the country performing in competitions. In 1920, a Bugle and Drum Corp was formed and coexisted with the marching band. With the formation of the Emerald Society (the Department’s Fraternal Irish Organization) in 1956, bagpipes came to forefront of the department's musical efforts, and remain symbolic of the department's musical endeavors. The FDNY Pipes and Drums was formed in 1962 and exists proudly to this day, performing in parades and dedications, while also mourning every fallen member at funerals. 


The New York City Fire Museum’s new exhibition “Strike Up the Band: A Tribute to the Bands of the Bravest” explores the rich history of the Department’s musicians.  Drawing upon the museum's diverse collection, the exhibition takes the visitor through over 100 years of musical history. Using historic objects such as bagpipes and drums, uniforms, trophies, and photographs from throughout the bands’ histories, as well as modern video displays, visitors can explore this little-known aspect of the department. 

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Colonial Firefighting & The American Revolution

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Celebrate the untold story of a group of volunteers, the colonial-era firefighters, that stood between New York and disaster during years of rampant arson, wars for North America, and the American Revolution. Multimedia, video animations, and 3D models illustrate the major events of the colonial era, including a breathtaking video-animation of the devastating fire in 1776 that destroyed 500 buildings – homes, churches, schools, stores, and factories. Original artworks depict the Wall of Wall Street, the first fire engines, and 1770 New York neighborhoods. A free exhibition booklet will be provided to the first 1,000 attendees to the Museum starting March 15th.


This exhibition was made possible through a partnership with Bruce Twickler of Docema, LLC, Devan Calabrez, and their talented team.  

Firehouse: The Photography of Jill Freedman

On display through Summer 2023

Jill Freedman

Showcasing award-winning photographer Jill Freedman’s moving collection of photographs documenting New York City firefighters on the job in the ‘70s. Firehouse: The Photography of Jill Freedman. The exhibition features a number of images contained in Freedman’s book, Firehouse, which was released in 1977 and garnered rave reviews highlighting their honesty and grit that captured the danger, tragedy, heroism, and camaraderie of being a firefighter in New York City. CNN once described the photographs as “images that describe a community of men in their full humanity, heroic but not just heroes. Pictures of terrible danger meet moments of rough tenderness, then all gives way to goofball antics back at the station.

To create this display of heroism and heart, Freedman lived among the firefighters in the Bronx and Harlem for more than a year as she chronicled their work. She followed groups for six days at a time, sleeping in the backseat of cars or on the floor between engines. 

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