Smithsonian Collects Objects from "Rescue Me"

Series Captures the Effect of Sept. 11 on American Life and Culture
July 13, 2011
In a special ceremony today, the National Museum of American History acquired objects from the Sony Pictures Television drama series for FX, Rescue Me. The donation, presented by Rescue Me co-creators Denis Leary (star of the series) and Peter Tolan, includes Leary’s firefighter costume, firefighter helmets from the cast, photographs from the show’s firehouse set and firefighting tools, including an axe, Halligan tools and a carbon monoxide detector. The objects will join the museum’s popular culture history collections in the Division of Culture and the Arts.

Rescue Me premiered in July 2004 and revolves around the lives of the men in a New York City firehouse—the crew of 62 Truck. Examining the fraternal nature and relationships of firefighters, the series tackles the daily drama of the life-and-death situations associated with being a firefighter, while exploring the ways the men use dark humor to protect their emotions. This television series is intended for mature audiences and deals with adult content.

“Sept. 11 changed so much about America and the way we live our lives,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the National Museum of American History. “As a show, Rescue Me provides a lens not only into the job of firefighters and how these first responders have been affected by the terrorist attacks but also into the role popular culture plays in helping Americans remember the past and its influence on us.”

Leary is best known as a comedian, Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actor, writer and executive producer. He is also the co-creator and executive producer of Rescue Me and founder of the Leary Firefighters Foundation, which aims to provide funding and resources for fire departments to obtain the best available equipment, technology and training. Tolan is an Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and executive producer of Rescue Me. For the first season of the series, Tolan and Leary earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, and Tolan was recognized with a nomination for his directing work for the show’s pilot episode. Rescue Me has received eight award nominations in total.

In 2005, the Producers Guild of America recognized Tolan, Leary and their fellow producers, Jim Serpico and Kerry Orent, when Rescue Me was honored with a Visionary Award to acknowledge the producers’ work in demonstrating a unique or uplifting quality. The final episode of the show is scheduled for September 2011.

The National Museum of American History will be marking the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 with a series of media and public events. The next event will be “The Public Memory of September 11” at the National Building Museum July 26, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Leading representatives from the three sites—New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.—will present the designs of the memorials and discuss the challenges in commemorating recent history. The event is free, but pre-registration is required at www.nbm.org.

A special display, “September 11: Remembrance and Reflection,” will be on view Sept. 3-11 at the Museum of American History and will give visitors a close-up view of more than 50 objects from the three sites and recent acquisitions related to how American lives have changed since then. This display is made possible with support by Booz Allen Hamilton and the History channel.

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. To learn more about the museum, check http://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000, (202) 633-5285 (TTY).