The New York City Fire Museum is presenting an exhibition 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 is open now through April 2, 2023.
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.
Save the Date, November 3rd from 6-9pm for ‘A Night at the FDNY Museum’ celebrating the 35th anniversary along with this new exhibition.
“Jill Freedman created a visual story that captures an important piece of New York City history,” said Jennifer Brown, Executive Director of the New York City Fire Museum. “Most importantly, she showed the humanity of firefighters through their day-to-day struggles and triumphs.”
The images in the exhibition include close-ups of the firefighters, action shots at the scene of a fire, and more. 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, working 12-hour shifts, then going home to develop the negatives in her dark room, before coming back to the firehouse for another shift.
“Exhibitions such as this are crucial to honoring Jill Freedman’s work and keeping her legacy alive, much like Jill did with her photography subjects,” said the Jill Freedman Estate: Marcia Schiffman, Susan Hecht, Nancy Schiffman Sklar, and Wendy Wernick. “Jill is one of the greatest photographers of all time, and we are pleased to partner with the NYC Fire Museum and other institutions to keep her work available to the public.”
The Jill Freedman Estate has published a new version of Firehouse that is available during the exhibition alongside videos of Jill’s words and works. This edition includes the original text by author and firefighter Dennis Smith, one of the best-known advocates for firefighters in the U.S.
Freedman is best known for her street and documentary photography of the 1970s and 1980s in which she captured life in New York City by immersing herself in the lives of her subjects. In addition to her time spent with firefighters, she rode alongside New York City police officers, joined the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus, and traveled with the Poor People’s campaign.
The New York City Fire Museum also includes a permanent exhibition that chronicles the history of the New York City Fire Department and a memorial dedicated to the FDNY heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice on September 11, 2001.
About Jill Freedman ~ Jill Freedman was a highly respected New York City documentary photographer whose award-winning work is included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, the International Center of Photography, George Eastman House, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the New York Public Library, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, among others. She appeared in solo and group exhibitions throughout the world, and contributed to many prominent publications.
Jill Freedman was best known for her street and documentary photography, recalling the work of André Kertész, W. Eugene Smith, Dorothea Lange, and Cartier-Bresson. She published seven books: Old News: Resurrection City; Circus Days; Firehouse; Street Cops; A Time That Was: Irish Moments; Jill’s Dogs; and Ireland Ever. Jill Freedman lived and worked on the Upper West Side of New York City.
New York City Fire Museum Presents: Firehouse ~ The Photography of Jill Freedman will be on view through April 2, 2023.
Take a look-back at a memorial exhibition for Jill Freedman at Ki Smith Gallery in 2019, A Love Poem for New York.
About the New York City Fire Museum ~ The mission of the New York City Fire Museum is to collect, preserve and present the history and cultural heritage of the fire service of New York and to provide fire prevention and safety education to the public, especially children.
On Thursday, November 3 from 6-9 PM, the New York City Fire Museum will host “A Night at the FDNY Museum” to celebrate the new special exhibition Firehouse: The Photography of Jill Freedman. This fall also marks the Museum’s 35th anniversary at 278 Spring Street, the former home of Engine 30. The community event will include a private viewing of the exhibition, light fare, open beer and wine bar, raffle prizes, silent auction, and more.
The Museum is located at 278 Spring Street, NYC. It is open Wednesdays through Sundays, from 10am to 5pm. Advance tickets are preferred for General Admission.
COVID Information ~ The Museum advises employees, members and guests visiting the Museum to wear a mask.