On Wednesday, February 26, 2020, The Norwalk Arts Commission unveiled its first showing at the Mayor’s Gallery for 2020. The “Photographic Celebration of the History of Norwalk Firefighters” was attended by Norwalk Mayor Harry W. Rilling, the Norwalk Arts Commission, Fire Chief Gino Gatto, and other members of the community. Curator Helen Roman, who is also a member of the Arts Commission, was inspired to mount the show after reviewing the Norwalk Art Collection, of which almost all City Departments have contributed.
“I was most impressed by the contribution of the early firefighters in photographs of their remarkable journey from as early as the 1800s to the present. One can’t but admire these men in their primitive horse-driven wagons, and later pumper and hose trucks fighting fires,” Roman said. “Their importance and dedication to the community is immeasurable. We are lucky to get to see some of this unique collection from Norwalk’s rich past.”
This show would not have been possible without the contributions of Erik Trautmann, who is a local photographer with the Norwalk Hour/Hearst Connecticut Media Group. Trautmann had digitized much of the Norwalk collection of photographs that were in storage at the Norwalk Public Library History Room. Providing these files to the Arts Commission allowed for reproductions to be created that are part of the display in the Mayor’s Gallery.
“This show is a remarkable glimpse into a proud chapter of Norwalk history, but through the eyes of men who were photographers from that same era. Though we don’t know the names of these early photographers, as they were likely local to our area, it’s fitting that we celebrate their work from an artistic as well as historical perspective,” said Marc Alan, Chairman of the Norwalk Arts Commission.
The Mayor’s Gallery is located at Norwalk City Hall, 125 East Avenue, in the foyer outside of the Mayor’s Office. The rotating exhibits focus on themes designed to celebrate Norwalk’s diversity, introduce some of the City’s many cultural organizations, and engage the public on issues facing the community.
“Seeing the history of Norwalk firefighters through photographs is inspiring. It’s also emotional, as you can’t help but reflect on what these brave people did for our community,” said Mayor Rilling. “I am thankful to the Arts Commission and to Helen Roman for helping bring this new exhibit to the Mayor’s Gallery.”
The exhibit – “A Photographic Celebration of the History of Norwalk Firefighters” – can be viewed whenever City Hall is open.