FAQ: About the Museum

Is the Museum a private or public institution?
The Fire Museum of Memphis is a not-for-profit institution entrusted to maintain the collection of the Memphis Fire Department and provide fire safety education to the public.  The Museum is not funded by or controlled by the Memphis Fire Department, but is a separate entity funded through donations, admission and Gift Shop sales.  It operates in a firehouse, formerly the site of MFD Station #1.

How large is the Museum and its collections?
The Museum has two floors of Exhibit Space in Old Fire Station #1 and one floor of Exhibit Space in the Snowden Building.  The second floor of the Snowden Building is home to our Banquet Room, Museum Offices and the Memphis Fire Department Life Safety Educators Offices.  The Museum contains numerous apparatus that served the MFD, other firefighting artifacts once used by the MFD, and a play area with two fire trucks for kids to play in and Fire Safety Educational exhibits.

Do you lend or lease your collection?
We do not lend or lease any of the collection to the general public.  We do, on occasion, lend objects to other Museums or organizations for limited exhibition, or for television, theater or movie production.  Such loans require the approval of the Museum’s Board of Trustees.

How many artifacts/pieces do you have on display?
The Museum has one of the largest collections of fire-related artifacts and artwork in the world, with thousands of objects and an archive of tens of thousands of photographs, documents and memorabilia.

What is meant by the term “permanent collection”?
This is the complete set of objects owned by the Museum, but does not apply to objects on loan to our Museum from other institutions.  Our permanent collection can be found in storage, on display, or on loan to other institutions.

Why are some objects not on exhibit?
Our collection contains thousands of objects, all of which cannot be displayed in the three exhibition floors of our two buildings.  Some of our collection is on loan to other institutions, and some of it is in storage.  Certain objects, such as historic photographs, prints, and paintings, are sensitive to light and need to be kept in special conditions.  Very delicate objects have special storage requirements or require conservation before going on display.

What is meant by the term “special exhibition”?
This is a temporary exhibit highlighting a particular event in the history of Memphis firefighting and/or showcasing artistic works related to firefighting.

How do I find out how much an object in the Museum collection is worth?
The Museum does not disclose the monetary values of objects in its collections for security reasons.

Can you tell me the value of an artifact I own?
The Museum cannot provide monetary appraisals.

How can I donate a work of art or artifact to the Museum?
The Museum benefits greatly from the generosity of the public and welcomes donations to its collection.  The Museum carefully considers all offers, but not every object is suitable for this Museum.  If a donation could be housed somewhere more appropriate or will not have a chance to be exhibited, we prefer not to take it. If you are interested in donating art or artifacts, appropriate for the Museum’s collection, please contact the General Manager at (901) 636-5650.

Is photography or videography permitted in the Museum?
Photography and videography are allowed in the Museum so long as the images are for personal, non-commercial use.  Please be mindful of other visitors.

Is commercial photography or filming permitted in the Museum?
Still photography is permitted for private noncommercial use only in designated areas (No Tripods allowed). Photographs of the Fire Museum of Memphis cannot be sold, published, reproduced, transferred, distributed or otherwise commercially exploited in any manner whatsoever.

How do I request images of works in the Museum’s collection?
You may use images from our Online Catalog for non-commercial purposes with attribution to the Fire Museum of Memphis.  If you require higher-resolution images, non-watermarked images, or images for commercial purposes, please contact the Archive Department at archives@firemuseum.com or (901) 636-5650.

Are internships available?
At this time, internships are not available, but we are working on making this option available in the very near future.

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