World War II Navy Art Exhibit on Display at National Churchill Museum

Those interested in World War II history can enjoy a fascinating new exhibit of World War II Navy art on display June 10-August 11 at the National Churchill Museum located on the campus of Westminster College.

An opening public reception for the exhibit will be held from 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. on Friday, June 14.  A local vendor will provide the food and Fechtel Beverage will provide the drinks.

“This art collection captures the experiences of war and the men and women who fought in it in ways that a camera or written word cannot,” says Dr. Rob Havers, Executive Director of the National Churchill Museum.  “We are pleased to offer this exhibit as a commemoration to all who served in World War II and particularly in honor of the 70th anniversary of the year the tide turned for the Allies-1943.”

The collection is the result of the Navy Combat Army Program, which was approved after New York muralist Griffith Baily Coale convinced Admiral C.W. Nimitz to send Navy artists into action to record military activities.

In August 1941 Coale became the Navy’s first combat artist on active duty.  Eventually, seven other artists were also sent to serve in combat areas and record their impressions of the action: Standish Backus, William F. Draper, Mitchell Jamieson, Edward Millman, Albert K. Murray, Alexander P. Russo and Dwight Clark Shepier.

These artists documented a variety of actions in the European and Pacific theatres, including the Normandy invasion, campaigns in North Africa and the invasion of Okinawa.

The result was over 1,300 drawings, watercolors and paintings which were used to illustrate books and magazines and toured the country in exhibitions designed to inform and raise public morale.

The collection on display at the National Churchill Museum this summer is composed of 32 of those pieces in an exhibit entitled “WWII Navy Art: A Vision of History,” which is on loan from the Navy Art Collection in Washington, D.C.

Financial assistance for this project has been provided by the Missouri Association of Community Arts Agencies and the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, with Challenge America funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.

This marks the second time a show from the Navy Art Collection has been on display in the National Churchill Museum.

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