Surprises Abound in Fulton

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Fulton , Art and Artisan Galleries , Art and History , Arts & Culture , educational museum , museum exhibits , museums , Shopping
Spend a day exploring museums, galleries and the Brick District
Author: Stephen Foutes
If you’re looking for a great day-trip destination, consider finding yourself in Fulton.

Museums, restaurants, an up-and-coming retail district and two colleges are part of the fun when you visit this charming Missouri city, which is home to about 13,000 full-time residents and some surprising finds.


For those who haven’t visited the area before, the
National Churchill Museum is perhaps the most unexpected surprise.

After all, there aren’t a lot of American museums dedicated to British leaders. And those that are generally aren’t found in small, mostly agricultural communities in the Midwest.


Located on the campus of Westminster College, the National Churchill Museum is housed in the lower level of the stunningly beautiful Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury.


The museum’s modern design and exhibits make an interesting juxtaposition to its setting, a circa 1677 church that stood in London – its predecessor having been destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666 – for nearly 300 years.


Originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the church was badly damaged during the London Blitz.


It was moved from London to Fulton in the mid 1960s, a tip of the cap from college leaders seeking to honor Sir Winston Churchill, who gave his famous
“Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster 20 years earlier, on March 5, 1946.

The museum offers a wealth of information on World War I and II, Churchill’s life and his rise to worldwide recognition.


Among the many exhibits is an immersive light and sound show that recreates the experience of being in London during a World War II-era air raid. Other highlights of the tour are memorabilia related to Churchill’s visit in 1946, a day that Fulton also welcomed President Harry S. Truman, and a collection of original paintings by Churchill.


Outside the museum, take a moment to reflect on the large art installation known as “Breakthrough.”


Crafted from eight sections of the Berlin Wall, “Breakthrough” is a part of the college’s Cold War Memorial. Standing about 11 feet tall and stretching 32 feet wide, “Breakthrough” was created by Churchill’s granddaughter, Edwina Sandys, and was formally dedicated by President Ronald Reagan one year after the wall fell.


Beautiful works of art always are a highlight of a visit to the
Mildred M. Cox Gallery on the campus of William Woods University. The gallery hosts rotating exhibits (changing monthly) and it is open to the public every day.

Recently, works from the Missouri River Valley Printers of Grindstone Studio were on display. Many works depicted regional landmarks, such as Missouri’s Capitol, along with properties in towns such as Boonville and Arrow Rock.


The gallery is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.


Artwork in steel, chrome and horsepower is the focal point of
Auto World Museum, located off Highway 54, northwest of the downtown area.

Strolling through the museum takes you back in time to the early days of automobiles, when rides like the 1903 Humber Elite were all the rage. Of course there are classic cars of the Route 66 era (a sweet ’57 Chevy certainly is eye-catching) along with high-end models from Rolls Royce and Packard.


Museum staffers point to their 1931 Cord as being one of the collection’s crown jewels.


Of course, if you really want to take a trip back in time and you happen to be in possession of a flux capacitor, the DeLorean will come in handy. If you don’t get that reference, it’s time to
buy yourself a little something.

As a side note, a sweet dog named Charlie is the museum’s unofficial mascot. He’s not there every day, but when he is, grab a bag of Backer’s Potato Chips (made in Fulton by the same family that founded the auto museum). Charlie just might take the stroll with you.


The museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, April-December.


In downtown Fulton, the area known as
The Brick District serves as a hub for community events and has a growing number of shopping and dining options.

You might spend time browsing selected works at
Art House, which features paintings and other items created by area and regional artists. Admire the works or buy something to take home; Art House is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday.

Maybe you need a quick pick-me-up? Grab a coffee, latte or cappuccino from the
Playhouse Bistro, which also has breakfast and lunch options (and some cute signs).

Enjoy a meal at
Beks, a popular eatery known for great hamburgers and, among other things, a delicious chipotle chicken sandwich. Beks also has a full bar and an excellent wine selection.

And don’t miss the
Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society and Museum, which offers the chance for genealogy research and serves up a generous portion of local history, with artifacts dating to the early 1800s.

The museum (open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on the third Saturday of every month) has an area devoted to local folk artist Jesse Howard, who wasn’t overly popular in Callaway County. He was known for expressing his feelings by placing signs around his property, to the chagrin of many residents.


However, his work put Fulton on the art world’s map when he caught the eye of the Kansas City Art Institute and later, the Smithsonian.


Here’s
a good story about Howard, written in 1980 in the Kingdom Daily News, while this NPR story focuses on a 2015 exhibition featuring Howard’s work at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

Howard’s work will be featured at
Art House during the 2016 Autumn on the Bricks event, set for Oct. 7-8.

Jesse, it seems, was a lot like Fulton. Full of surprises.





  Auto World Museum
This museum houses a wide variety of automobiles in historic settings. The oldest vehicle in the collection ...

  National Churchill Museum
In 1946, at Westminster College in Fulton, Winston Churchill delivered one of the most significant speeches ...

  Mildred Cox Gallery
The Mildred Cox Gallery is located within the Gladys Woods Kemper Center for the Arts at William Woods ...

  Berlin Wall "Breakthrough" Sculpture
On November 9, 1990, one year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, United States President Ronald Reagan ...

  Autumn on the Bricks
Come to Fulton’s Historic Brick District for the annual “Autumn on the Bricks” festival ...

  The Brick District
The Brick District, the historic downtown of Fulton, MO, is home to over 100 independent businesses. ...

  Art House
Art House is a vibrant and welcoming center founded on the belief that creative arts enrich lives. Through ...

  Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society
The Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society archives the history of Callaway County. The extensive exhibits ...

  Beks
Quality, fresh-made food in a relaxed atmosphere. Extensive wine list, by the glass and bottle. For ...