The National Churchill Museum in Fulton, MO
Winston Churchill is remembered not just for his accomplishments, but also for some of the things he said like the amusing "I could not live without champagne. In victory I deserve it, in defeat I need it." On a more serious note, the two-time Prime Minister of Great Britain also popularized the term "Iron Curtain" as a reference to the impending threat of Communism and the Soviet Union. Many would be surprised to find out that Churchill's first mention of an Iron Curtain came during a speech he gave in 1946, between his two stints as Prime Minister, in tiny Fulton, Missouri. Fulton is now home to the National Churchill Museum, an amazing repository of all things Churchill.
The National Churchill Museum
Founded in 1969, the National Churchill Museum, located on the campus of Westminster College, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Amazingly, the museum is situated in the Church of St. Mary, a venue partially constructed using remains of the original church in London that was mostly destroyed by Nazi bombs during World War II. The reconstruction of the church is significant not only because it is an homage to Churchill's 1946 speech, but also because the church was designed by famed English architect Sir Christopher Wren, who also designed London's St. Paul's Cathedral. Inside the museum a spiral staircase takes visitors upstairs to the worship area where the original bomb-surviving support columns are in place, perhaps symbolizing faith while also representing the strength that the British people displayed while enduring the war. Services no longer take place here on a regular basis, occurring on special occasions only.
President Truman was at Churchill's side during his Fulton speech which took place at the gymnasium at Westminster College, still standing and located very near the museum. Visitors can learn about the occasion at the museum, and even watch film of the event. The museum chronicles Churchill's life from boyhood through to the time of the speech in Fulton, and is filled with enlightening displays. It wasn't obvious that young Winston was destined for greatness in his youth; he had poor grades in school despite being known for his sharp mind. Museum-goers will learn about Churchill's time in service, about his time as a reporter during the Boer War, about his authorship of books like "The People's Rights" and about how he became fond of painting, a pastime he would explore for his entire life and get pretty good at (Picasso was a fan). One of the most stunning of displays deals with Churchill's time as Prime Minister during World War II, which includes a large portrait of Adolph Hitler that depicts the German ruler in a benign way. Take a few steps away from that portrait though and a unique piece of art comes into view; stand exactly in the right place and the fragments of the piece coalesce to show Hitler as the raving madman that he was.
Pennant from Churchill's Fulton visit
Hitler art installation
Those who study Churchill, World War II or history in general will have a field day at the National Churchill Museum, and just about everyone will enjoy seeing how all of this ties in with American history and Missouri history. Fans of artist Thomas Hart Benton have something to see here too; Benton's painting "The New Fence," which was given to Churchill as an honorarium for his appearance, is on view in the museum's entry area. There are many sculptures of Churchill to be found inside the museum and out on the grounds, and there is also a unique piece of art outside that utilizes a large piece of the Berlin Wall. Envisioned by Churchill granddaughter Edwina Sandys and entitled "Breakthrough," the section of wall features oversize cut-outs of a man and a woman, symbolizing the action indicated in the piece's title. The artwork also retains the original graffiti that was on it on the Western side; occasionally it is painstakingly repainted to maintain its authenticity.
There's a much smaller piece of the Berlin Wall on display in the museum's gift shop and among the books and other souvenirs on offer, visitors can purchase a small piece of the Berlin Wall as a keepsake. And if you agree with Churchill's sentiments about champagne, you can get a souvenir T-shirt with that quote emblazoned on it.
Berlin wall fragment and souvenirs
Berlin wall sculpture Breakthrough
Find out more about the National Churchill Museum here.
For information on other fun things to do in Fulton gohere.
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