Plans are firming up for the 50th anniversary celebration for the National Churchill Museum at Westminster College.
Workers are busy inside and outside of the museum. Fulton Garden Club members have been planting flowers and mulching the tiny garden on the building's east side. Anticipation is in the air.
Tyler Oberlag, manager of Guest Services and Museum Operations, is herding all the activities. The celebration will be May 3-5, with a re-creation of the parade famously held when former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited in March 1946 and gave his "Iron Curtain Speech."
"We have no idea how many people will be coming," Oberlag said of the celebration. But, he added, there will be four food vendors and plenty of portable potties dotted around the campus.
The museum will be free to all the whole weekend of the celebration. Some events require paid registration, including three dinners with about 300 registered guests.
"Tickets are almost gone," he said of the dinners.
Among the events will be an 11 a.m. Saturday talk by artist Edwina Sandys in front of her art installation next to the museum. "Breakthrough" is her sculpture incorporating eight large sections of the Berlin Wall. It was created in 1990 by Sandys, who is Churchill's granddaughter and will be among the family members returning to Fulton for the big celebration.
The Fulton Sun is publishing a 24-page special guide to activities and also including historical information. It will be inserted into the April 28 edition.
Friday, May 3
11 a.m.: Registration opens
11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m.: Tours of America's National Churchill Museum; meet at museum's front desk.
1 p.m.: 50th Anniversary Commemorative Tour. Author, artist and videographer Steve Stinson, who served as one of the original tour guides for the museum during the 1960s, will lead the tour. Stinson's father, Dave Stinson, was the vice president at Westminster responsible for organizing the relocation from London to Fulton and rebuilding of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury.
3 p.m.: "Preserving the Past: Christopher Wren's Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury." Esley Hamilton, preservation historian with St. Louis County Parks, will discuss how war and expanding commerce have taken a major toll on Sir Christopher Wren's 52 London parish churches that constitute one of the greatest architectural achievements of the Baroque era. The lecture will occur at the church.
4:30 p.m.: A recital on the Noel Mander 0rgan, Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury. Churchill Fellow Frederick Hohman transforms the pipe organ from a "Sunday morning" instrument into a virtual symphony orchestra. Hohman will be playing the church's Mander organ, built and installed by the well-known British organ builder Noel Mander. The Aldermanbury organ is considered by many the finest baroque organ in America.
6 p.m.: Reception with Churchill family members and a preview of new exhibits. The event is for 50th anniversary sponsors only); it will be held on the plaza outside the museum.
The three exhibits are:
Painting as a Pastime: From Winston to the White House, which will display the paintings of American presidents and Churchill.
An Imaginative Concept: Christopher Wren's St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury Journey to Fulton, which will celebrate the relocation of Wren's 17th century Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury from London to Fulton in the 1960s.
The Special Relationship Project, which will feature more than 4,000 works of art created by K-12 students from Mid-Missouri who explore the idea of "special relationship," a term coined by Winston Churchill in his Fulton speech.
7 p.m.: Dinner and program with Churchill family members in Mueller Leadership Hall-Backer Dining Hall. Those attending must be registered.
Saturday, May 4
8:30 a.m.: Registration opens.
9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.: Museum tours. Guests will enjoy three new art exhibits as they tour the museum. Meet at the museum's front desk. The exhibits are: Painting as a Pastime: From Winston to the White House; An Imaginative Concept: Christopher Wren's St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury Journey to Fulton; and The Special Relationship Project.
10 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.: Walk in Churchill and Truman's Footsteps, which re-creates the walk of Churchill and Truman when they visited the campus of Westminster College on March 5, 1946. The tour, which will begin outside the front entrance of the museum, will visit the Historic Gymnasium where the "Iron Curtain" Speech was given, and Washington West, the college president's house where Winston Churchill enjoyed a nap, a meal and drink. Special guests will include fellow Baxter Watson, who was a Westminster College student in 1946 and led Churchill and Truman into the gymnasium.
9 a.m.: Meet the authors and book signing at the museum. Appearing will be authors Andrew Roberts, "Churchill Walking with Destiny," Lord Alan Watson, "Two Speeches to Save the World," Jim Wilson, "Churchill and Roosevelt: The Big Sleepover at the White House," Tina Santi Flaherty, "What's Jackie Taught Us," and Edwina Sandys, "Winston Churchill: Painting as a Pastime."
10 a.m.: Continuing the Special Relationship, which will feature sculptor and Churchill Fellow Don Wiegand making life casts of two surprise guests — one American, the other British — to symbolize the ongoing special relationship between the United States and Great Britain. The event will be inside the museum.
11 a.m.: Meet the artist and experience Breakthrough. Artist and Churchill granddaughter Edwina Sandys will discuss her Breakthrough sculpture, which is comprised of eight sections of the Berlin Wall, in front of the sculpture.
12:30 p.m.: Enid and R. Crosby Kemper Lecture and Luncheon, which will feature Churchill Fellow and author Andrew Roberts recounting Churchill's sense of humor which he used to good effect in every facet of his life. Those attending must be registered; the event will be at Mueller Leadership Hall-Backer Dining Hall.
2:30 p.m.: 50th anniversary parade, which will start across from the museum. The parade will feature members of the Churchill and Truman families, U.S. military bands, high school bands, the St. Andrews Society Pipes and Drum Corps, the Air Attaché British Embassy, the Commanding Officer 4th Fighter Group U.S. Air Force and other VIPs. The parade also will include a special salute to the Eagle Squadrons of WWII and one of their own, Lt. John Lutz, of Fulton. The parade will begin at the corner of Westminster Avenue and West Seventh Street, go south on Westminster Avenue, turn east on Fifth Street, turn north on Court Street, go west on Seventh Street, and end after passing the museum.
6 p.m.: Reception and gala dinner with David Rubenstein, who is co-executive chairman of The Carlyle Group. Business attire is required; guests must be registered. The event will be at the Historic Gymnasium.
Sunday, May 5
10 a.m.: Special 50th anniversary service at Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury. Those attending are asked to register for preferred seating. The service will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the re-hallowing the church on the campus of Westminster College.