Having driven by the Aurora Regional Fire Museum in downtown Aurora many times, I was curious and wondered if it would be a place my 4-year-old son might enjoy since he likes firefighting.
The collection of local historic firefighting artifacts was started in the mid-1960s and was moved into the once-abandoned Central Fire Station in the 1980s. Since then, it has been renovated and modernized into a very impressive museum which holds the attention of all ages. My kids and I were pleasantly surprised at how engaging and educational it is.
We were greeted by an extremely friendly and knowledgeable lady who explained the history and layout of the museum. The first floor is thematically set up with short videos, visuals, artifacts, and interactive exhibits about tools and technology for “Getting There, Getting Water, and Getting Rescued” across five time periods, starting in the early 1800s.
There are many kid-friendly exhibits (labeled with a hand visual) that kids are urged to touch and experience. Children can sound off an early fire alarm, hold an old water bucket, or “horse” around the firehouse on wooden stick horses. The displayed artifacts, carefully selected from thousands, include items you would expect as well as many unique artifacts and photos. Of course, there are also quite a few fire engines that my son really enjoyed. Upstairs there is also a temporary exhibit worth checking out about museum collections. It’s even possible to learn about past exhibits complete with photos on the museum’s extensive website.
After our self-guided tour we spent some time in the gift shop, which features firefighting paraphernalia, costumes, figures, puzzles games, etc. So now instead of little plastic green army men we have red firefighting figures. (Note that the museum, including the gift shop, only accepts cash or check.)
The museum also hosts birthday parties and can be rented for private occasions; you can learn more here.
Also, during the holiday season, the museum hosts a unique “Gingerbread FIREhouse Contest and Exhibition” from late November until a few days before Christmas. All entries have to depict a firefighting-themed architectural structure. You can enter this contest or just vote for your favorite. My kids enjoyed comparing the professional cookie and candy structures with photos of the real historic fire station buildings. Many creations were also submitted by local children.
When my family visited in December 2014, there was also a “holiday mouse hunt,” which proved to be rather difficult with 15 mice hid throughout the museum. Visiting this museum will definitely be a new holiday tradition for us. But don’t wait around until November to experience this fascinating historic museum. It’s appropriate for all ages, and I guarantee you and your children will learn something new about firefighting while having a blast!
- What: Aurora Regional Fire Museum
- Where: 53 North Broadway, at the corner of New York and Broadway (Route 25) in downtown Aurora.
- Parking: There is parking located behind the building in a lot accessible off of LaSale Street.
- When: The museum is open to the public from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
- Admission: The museum accepts donations. Suggested donations are $5 for adults, $3 for children. Contributions or any amounts are gratefully accepted.
- For more information: Visit the museum’s website, its Facebook page or call 630-892-1572.
About the writer: Naomi Krodel lives with her husband, three kids, two cats and one dog in Batavia. She is an explorer and dedicated multi-tasker who loves to expose her children to new cultures and experiences.