Weekend festival will include remarks by Missouri Governor Michael Parson, in-person tours, guest lectures, concerts and more.
On 15 March 2020, America’s National Churchill Museum (ANCM) solemnly pledged to keep the lights burning 24/7 in its ancient church to convey to the world a spirit of resilience against the global pandemic. That same day, the museum on the campus of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri closed its doors as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19. With the pandemic now on the decline, the museum will be reopened to the public on Friday, 30 July. The day will kick off a weekend of celebratory activities during which admission to the museum will be free. Many of the festivities will also be live streamed on the internet.
ANCM is the only museum in North America that commemorates the life and times of former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, who delivered his now famous “Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster College in 1946. During the museum’s 16-month-long closure, the brass chandeliers hanging from the 35-foot high celing of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, a centerpiece of the museum, have remained on night and day as a constant reminder that “we will persevere through the pandemic,” said Timothy Riley, the Sandra L. and Monroe E. Trout Director and Chief Curator of the Museum.
Westminster College President Donald P. Lofe, Jr., said the upcoming reopening is important for the college, the local community, and the college’s global community as well. “Winston Churchill’s historic address had a significant and enduring impact on this campus and throughout the world,’ Lofe said. “Reopening America’s National Churchill Museum after a long closure caused by the pandemic is cause for celebration, and the college warmly invites our campus, national, and worldwide audience to participate.”
While the museum has been closed to the public, its staff has remained at work on important projects, including conducting an inventory of the facility’s vast collection, digitizing documents and other artifacts, enhancing programs for elementary and high school students, and developing innovative webcasts for a global audience. Staff have also continued ongoing preservation work on the historic church, which was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. Originally built in London, St. Mary the Virgin was bombed out during the Blitz and reconstructed on the Westminster campus more than twenty years later.
During the public closure, ANCM hosted a successful webcast on March 5th of this year to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech, formally known as “The Sinews of Peace.” “We are excited to be reopening the museum for our guests,” Riley said. “While we will still adhere to various COVID-19 precautions, we want to invite all Missourians and visitors from around the country to join for this special occasion.”