From methods of cooking with fire to welding steal, from the sheer destruction caused by historic fires to the heroes who rescued many from its grips, visitors will discover the mystifying duality of this vital component of human progress.
Fire Under Control
The exhibition highlights how the earliest humans learned to control fire so it could be used for heating and cooking. The exhibition also demonstrates how fire is used in more modern recreational activities such as grilling and camping. Visitors will discover how early Cahokia dwellers used fire. Domestic objects such as cast iron stoves and fireplace tools will be on display, along with 19th century toys fueled by fire. "Fire!" also explores the many industries that have controlled fire for their benefit, showcasing industrial tools associated with blacksmithing, welding and brewing.
Fire Out of Control
Visitors will gain an understanding of both the horrors and heroism of fires. St. Louis has had many devastating fires in its history. "Fire!" will explore the Great Fire of 1849 and the many others that followed it. Photographs and art will depict the aftermath of these epic events. Learn the history of St. Louisʼ volunteer and professional firefighters. The collection of firefighting artifacts includes parade hats, a hose cart, a 1926 American LaFrance fire truck, and more.
"Fire!" will also explore some more recent events, particularly the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The exhibition features a media component with an interview with Dennis Grooms, a local St. Louis firefighter; about the rescue mission he took part in at the World Trade Center following the Sept. 11 attacks.
For the Family
"Fire! Friend and Foe" features play areas where children can experience the dual nature of fire. They will be able to step into the role of a firefighter with dress-up clothes and toys. In another area, children can sit around the flickering campfire, where there will be songbooks and other campfire activities to enjoy. The exhibition also provides opportunities for parents to discuss fire safety with their children.
The Missouri History Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday; Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Missouri History Museum is open Wednesday through Monday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission to "Fire!" is free. The Missouri History Museum is located at 5700 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, Mo., 63112. Call 314-746-4599 for details.
UPDATE JUNE 11, 2012 -- The Missouri History Museum has announced that admission to "Fire! Friend and Foe" is free, thanks to the support of Ameren.
Top: St. Louis Fire Department medal presented to Assistant Chief John Barry by Engine Co., #10, 1886.
Bottom: Fireman's painted leather parade hat worn by Fred Lauman of Franklin Fire Co., 1844.
Photos courtesy of Missouri History Museum