A day in the life of a living fire museum mannequin blog

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Mannequin man

 A day in the life of a living fire museum mannequin blog

mannequin man - published 04/08/2022

What's a day like as a living museum mannequin at the Essex Fire Museum

The alarm goes off at 6:30 I have a quick shower and a coffee, then I start putting on the make-up.
I follow the same make-up process.


First I pour out the white liquid latex into a small container.
I then add a small amount of flesh liquid latex, adding and mixing until the correct mannequin shade is required.
Then I cut up some application sponges and apply antiperspirant to my face.
Then I choose a similar shade of pan stick and apply this around my eyes.
Then I start working slowly by applying thin layers of liquid latex with the sponge, making sure that each layer is dry before applying the next.
The mannequin make-up normally requires around 5 or 6 layers to get the desired effect.

This process takes about an hour but can take longer sometimes if the first layer doesn’t go on well and the process needs to be restarted.

Then I get dressed and make sure everything I need is in the car.
I used to make up at the museum but that’s not as easy any more so I make-up at home and drive to the museum, but heavily disguised wearing a cap and face mask so as not to scare the neighbours

I pack the contact lenses I'll be using as well as some touch up make-up.
I normally get to the museum around 9:10 which gives me about 50 minutes to get ready before the museum opens.

I move whichever mannequin I’m replacing. As I like the variety of different locations in the museum and wearing different uniforms.

I used to take the place of the ARP warden over in the WW2 section but my current favourite is a fire uniform from 1976. This is the easily recognisable uniform consisting of yellow pvc trousers, yellow cork hat and a dark blue jacket.

The next stage is to undress the mannequin. I prefer to wear the same clothing as the mannequin for authenticity but sometimes the mannequins wear sizes too small for me, so I have to wear an alternative. I'll also take the opportunity to look at the mannequin’s face and add any blemishes to my make-up to get a closer match.
Then I put in the contact lenses in and reapply pan stick make-up around my eyes.

About 9:50 I take my position where the mannequin was standing and wait for the visitors to arrive.

The 1970s mannequin also wears BA (breathing apparatus) kit consisting of a tank with a face-mask around its neck. I put on the harness and stand in position on the mannequin’s stand. The mask can swing around if you don’t keep perfectly still. The real mannequin sometimes wears the face-mask which I occasionally do for authenticity but it quickly steams up, damages the make-up and it makes me overheat.

The museum runs a few treasure hunt quizzes and I make sure I have one of the clues on me.
Then it’s just a matter of keeping perfectly still and not blinking, which is much harder with contacts in.

The current spot is on a corner so only a few people at a time can see you, unlike the ww2 area which is much more open.
I’ll normally wait for the visitors to go pas at least once as they look for the clues, this way they are more surprised as they’re more convinced I’m a mannequin.

After an hour or so the staff start one of the fire engines up and start squinting water which means most people go outside and I can take a comfort break without being seen.
Then I just slip back into position for a few more hours.

Every event is different, but it normally gets quiet around 15:30 and if there is no one new, I'll finish.
So I take off my make-up and have a coffee. I can’t eat with the make-up and I usually just have a cold drink through a straw as a warm drink makes me hot and the make-up comes away from my lips.

I'll then start putting everything back as it was. I'll redress the mannequin with whatever I removed. The 1970s mannequin needs to go back on his base and wear the air cylinder harness, which is a bit tricky to get back on. Then he needs to be secured with some rope so that he’s doesn’t fall over as the BA kit is quite heavy.

Then its a mater of driving back home, making sure that I've forgotten nothing.

See event pictures Essex Fire Museum Mannequin Wearing Fire 1976 Uniform consisting of a Blue Tunic, Yellow Trousers and Cork Helmet

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