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18th Annual Fire Museum Seminar
Denver, Colorado • June 16-18, 2007

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Just over twenty attendees from nearly a dozen museums
attendeed the 2007 Fire Museum Network Seminar in Denver Colorado.


President's Dispatch
By Tom McDonald

On June 16-18, 2007, the Fire Museum Network, Inc. (FMN) sponsored its third independent annual seminar, dedicated to the continuing education of fire museum staff, trustees, and volunteers.   FMN's annual seminar is the only one of its kind held in the US and is dedicated strictly to people affiliated with North America's many, many fire museums.

This year's event was hosted by the Denver Firefighters Museum (DFM) and was the 18 th such seminar held since 1989.   The first 15 seminars were held in conjunction with Fire Rescue International, the annual trade show of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC).

Several pre-seminar events kicked off the Denver program, including a trip to a SPAAMFAA fire engine muster, a tour of several museums with educational workshops, and a hands-on workshop about creating displays.   The annual FMN membership meeting was held Saturday evening, begun with a moving presentation of the colors by the Denver Fire Department Honor Guard and Colorado Emerald Society Pipe Band.   The evening concluded with a round-table networking session for all attendees which lasted almost to midnight.

DFM President Bob Vallero and Executive Director Angela Rayne were outstanding hosts.   The program of speakers they presented over the next two days was exceptional, and the food...well, "out of this world" sums it up.   Registration for the whole seminar was $150, which included admission to all lectures, speaker literature, a welcome reception, transportation, breakfast on Sunday and Monday, a firehouse spaghetti dinner on Sunday evening, and a farewell banquet with Denver's most famous resident, "Molly Brown."   The $150 registration tab effectively included an annual membership in FMN as well.   Additional attendees from the same institution could register for only $100 each.

I knew the program would be great as soon as I was handed a half-inch thick binder which contained the agenda, and extensive notes on a variety of topics of interest to fire museum personnel which had been forwarded from each speaker weeks before and assembled into the books.   The topics covered over two days of seminars included: technological applications for hosting tours in a museum, developing interpretive materials for guided tours, fire safety education development, building a better board of directors, volunteer management, developing endowments, deciding insurance needs for your museum, and the finer points of preservation and restoration.

Each speaker was superb, clearly knowledgeable about his or her field of expertise.   Each was evidently practiced in delivering seminar presentations because each allowed adequate questioning time after his or her presentation.   The seminar was a fantastic learning experience.   The binders had plenty of room for notes, so now I have an excellent resource of information as an unexpected souvenir from my weekend in Colorado.   Of course, I have an extra five pounds tacked on from all the wonderful meals, too.

Next year, the FMN annual seminar will be hosted by the Aurora Regional Fire Museum in Aurora, Illinois, a Chicago suburb only 30 miles west of downtown.   Although the date of that seminar has not yet been set, Director Debby Davis and Curator David Lewis have their work cut out for them to outdo the program put on by the Denver folks, but members of FMN who attend next year will be the beneficiaries of that challenge.   I hope to see all of you there.

 



David's Photo Album

I tried not to let ant "good ideas" (or embarrassing moments) escape my lens. Join me as you walk though some of the more memorable museums from the trip.


Four FMN Seminar attendees sitting in bubble chairs while pondering interactive modern art in an exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. On Saturday, a group of us toured several of the local Denver museums. Later that evening we shared what was "good, bad, and ugly" about each. (The art museum's new architecture was "ugly" althought these chairs were suprisingly comfortable!)

...one of the (only?) "good" things we noticed at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) -- several engaging interactive's for children. Here is a Bingo card that encourages children to spot various objects (a cowboy hat, a horse, a tumbleweed) portrayed in the art hanging in the western art gallery.


Among the activities on Sunday, a guided tour of the Denver Firefighters' Museum...
The exhibit floor is cramped, but well laid out, and their professional new exhibits labels and graphics look spectacular!
The Denver firefighters' Museum has a wonderful bin of stuff (real and reproduction artifacts) that they encourage kids to "touch" and explore.
Hose nozzles, hose, couplings, reproduction fire marks, and a fire bucket, and laminated photographic reproductions, are among the many things in the touch area.
..the tour even included their collections storage room. (Jane from the Smithsonian can be so darn nosey!)

Lockers have been reclaimed and fitted out as display cases, highlighting the firefighters tools, while a string of apparatus is lined up in chronological order down the middle of the apparatus room.


The view from the driver's seat of the climb-on fire truck cab.

Bright red "STOP" signs and an easily recognizable dalmation dog logo denote "hands-on/minds-on" activities for kids.
All tours are self-guided, after picking up a program guide (available in a half-dozen languages) visitors follow the firefighters footsteps (adhesive stickers on the floor) around the exhibits.

The museum's second floor is dedicated to fire safety, and independent learning activities. In one bunk room kinds can, play various interactive fire safety games on computer kiosks, proactive stop-drop-and-roll on a play mat, act our their fire safety fears in a puppet theater, and a cozy corner with books and puzzles encourages children and adults to read an play on their own.

This small, simple, fire escape maze is designed to fold down for easy storage during special events. Large explanatory7 labels, and a stop-watch encourage children and adults to proactive having two ways out.


Children (of all ages) are encouraged to have fun while interacting. . . . "Yes, Jane you are allowed to touch *that* helmet without wearing your museum-gloves"




Preliminary Schedule for the 2005 Fire Museum Seminar

Saturday - July 23th

Sunday - July 24th

Monday - July 25th

Morning Choices - Choose one

Colorado SPAAMFAA Parade and Muster
This annual truck show begins at 9 AM approximately 30 minutes south of Downtown Denver. Vans Depart from the hotel at 8 AM

9:00 am

Welcome, Introductions, Show and Tell, and breakfast at the hotel

9:00 am

Presentation
Board of the Flies - Building a Board that Works

 

Off Site Tours The Good, Bad and Ugly
Historic house or traditional museum?

Tour three museums to compare and contrast differences, budgets, and marketing methods. Colorado Historical Society, Forney Transportation Museum, and Molly Brown House.

10:30 am

Presentation
High Tech, Low Budget: Visitors Tours with Technology
Create self guided tours using cell phones, cassette players, iPods, and other technology that the visitors bring with THEM.

10:30 am

Presentation
The Three R’s: Recruiting, Retaining and Retiring Volunteers
Where do you find volunteers, how do you keep them and when do you let them go.

5:00 pm

Opening ceremony, general membership meeting and networking time.

12:00 noon

Traditional Spaghetti lunch provided at the Denver Firefighter's Museum

12:00 noon

Lunch and Roundtable Discussion
Build a better Special Event: Special Events - more than just fire musters

6:30 pm

Dinner (on own OR Dutch with group members)

2:00 pm

Guided tour :
What’s Our Story: Interpretative Planning and Exhibits at the Denver Firefighters Museum
Explore the process of developing interpretative exhibits and how to and not to exhibit design. Includes guided tour of the Denver Firefighters Museum.

1:00 pm
Presentation
Endowments and Estate Planning for Your Museum: Securing your future

8:00 pm

 

.

Networking Session
discussion and critique of the museums visited during "The Good, Bad and Ugly" tours.

10:00 am

Presentation
Play Safe, Be Safe: Interactive Exhibit Planning
Develop hands-on activity stations for children of all ages that keep your exhibits safe.

2:30 pm

Presentation
It was a Dark and Stormy Night: Museum Insurance - who needs it and how much

 

.

6:30 pm

Dinner (on own OR Dutch with group members)

4:00 pm
Presentation
Preserve or Restore,: The differences and what they mean
 

8:00 pm

 

.

Networking Session
Fire Safety Education: Beyond Stop Drop and Roll.

5:00 pm

Fairwell western BBQ dinner with Molly Brown at the Denver Firefighters' Museum




If you'd like more information about our organization,
E-mail:
David Lewis, dlewisarfm@aol.com