Friday, July 10, 2015

"Stay Calm and Carry Museum On" - The National Churchill Museum (Fulton, MO)

I love museums of all kinds and the summer months make for a great time to see them.  Last week I had the great pleasure and privilege of taking a short road trip with our son, Robert, to the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, on the campus of Westminster College.  It was a great, fun, and interesting visit.

Westminster is the home of this museum owing to its place in history as the site of Winston Churchill's famous "Sinews of Peace" speech address - also known as the "Iron Curtain" speech, on March 5, 1946.  Originally established in the late 1960s as the National Churchill Memorial and Library, it went through an extensive renovation in 2006 and has since been designated by Congress as America's national Churchill museum.

The actual focus and home of the museum is the Church of St. Mary Aldermanbury - a 17th century London church transported brick and pillar to Fulton, MO - but that will be the subject of my next blog post as it deserves its own - the Museum proper resides in the lower level of the church, but also includes statues of Churchill on the church grounds as well as "Breakthrough" - a sculpture built from sections of the Berlin Wall.

The Museum tour is self-guided, but a kind volunteer gave us a short orientation to the layout.  The tour is primarily chronological - beginning with The Early Years (1874-1914), First World War & aftermath (1914-1929),World War II (1929-1945), The Sinews of Peace (1946), Churchill and the Cold War (1946 and Beyond), and Churchill's Private Life.  Not knowing many details about Churchill apart from his appearance in my general reading about WWI and WWII, the entire tour was a good experience to learn more about the man.

"The day came when my father himself paid a formal visit of inspection.  All the troops were arranged in the correct formation of attack. He spent twenty minutes studying the scene..." - Winston Churchill 

"The Early Years" an exhibit includes a cabinet of some of the young Churchill's toy soldiers.  He had more than 1500 of them.  The section of the museum also describes his rough early years of schooling, his graduation from Sandhurst Military Academy, his intrepid adventures in the Boer War, and his entrance into politics.

"The First World War" describes his position of First Lord of the Admiralty, his influence in the development of battleships and tanks (financed through the Navy!), the disaster at Galipoli, and his field service in WWI.

His important part in the history of WWII - for which he is probably best known in the American imagination - justly represents a good part of the museum.

Not surprisingly, the very best part of the Museum - and the section with the most artifacts - covers Churchill's visit (with President Harry Truman) to Fulton and Westminster College for his famous speech.

Finally, the Museum has displays focusing on Churchill's private life, including several original paintings done by Churchill, and his place in popular culture.

The Museum also includes some wonderful outdoor sculptures.

The Museum is comfortable with professional exhibits; perhaps a little light on Churchill artifacts (apart from the excellent Iron Curtain speech collection), though that's understandable given the more important collections overseas such as the Churchill War Rooms at the Imperial War Museum. I highly recommend a visit.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Love Chruchill! I totally want to go to this museum! :)