On March 15, in the face of the current pandemic, America’s National Churchill Museum (ANCM) temporarily shuttered its facility on the campus of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Essential security and maintenance staff remain at their posts, but like other leading institutions — including Chartwell, the Churchill War Rooms, Blenheim Palace, and the Churchill Archives Centre — ANCM is doing its part to prevent the disease from spreading so swiftly around the globe.
Last week, not long after announcing the Museum’s closure, I encountered a resident from Fulton out for a walk at dusk. Looking glum, she paused outside Christopher Wren’s Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, so boldly moved from London to Fulton in honor of Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech. Noticing the lights inside the sanctuary were on, she asked, “Is there something happening inside tonight?” I responded, “Not this evening, but the lights will remain lit until the Museum reopens.” “That is good to hear: It will be my beacon leading the way toward a better time ahead.”
The Museum, housed underground and beneath the venerable church that survived the London Blitz of World War II, has for 50 years remained a symbol of steadfastness in the face of adversity. And so it remains today.
Museum staff have already begun to transform the way we do business and present content to the public.
We will soon begin to share seldom-seen treasures from the Museum’s collection and archive.
We are digitizing and sharing archived lectures by Lady Soames, Jock Colville, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and a host of others who, like Churchill before them, shared words of wisdom in Fulton. We have increased our social media activity (#thinkchurchill) and continue to work with partner organizations, chief among them the International Churchill Society, to provide resources that both inform and inspire.
All the while, we will provide support to teachers, parents, and students adjusting to the challenges and opportunities presented by online learning from home.
Together with our partners, our galleries here in Fulton may be dark, but the Museum, its mission, and its message remain, like Winston Churchill, a beacon of resilience.
Sandra L. and Monroe E. Trout Director and Chief Curator
America’s National Churchill Museum