The National Churchill Museum has been closed for months due to the pandemic and construction improvements, but it has continued engaging audiences through virtual seminars.
On Monday evening, the museum held its first Cocktails with the Curator event, a new virtual series.
Winston Churchill's granddaughter and artist Edwina Sandys told the story of her "Breakthrough" sculpture, which was dedicated outside the museum 30 years ago. One of Fulton's most popular photo spots, the sculpture is made of eight sections of the Berlin Wall.
Sandys said the museum, located at Westminster College where her grandfather gave his famous "Sinews of Peace" speech, was almost like a second home for her. During the speech, Churchill popularized the term "Iron Curtain," a political division physically manifested in the Berlin Wall.
When the wall fell in 1989, Sandys visited Berlin to try to get a piece of the wall. Sandys approached East German officials and told the story of Churchill's Fulton speech.
"I thought it was very funny and strange, sitting down, working shoulder to shoulder with somebody that used to be seen as our enemy," Sandys said.
Sandys picked out eight sections of the wall graffitied with the phrase "unwahr," which means untrue in German.
"It was rather striking — all that red on colored wall," Sandys said.
Sandys took her pieces of the wall to New York. Just a year after the wall fell, Sandys brought the completed sculpture to Fulton to be dedicated by former President Ronald Reagan. Two years later, Sandys was back in Fulton when Mikhael Gorbachev, former leader of the Soviet Union came to speak at Westminster and walk through the sculpture.
"It was very hopeful for those who are here in Fulton and remember the day, our students and alumni," NCM chief curator Timothy Riley said. "There were 20,000 people who came to hear that speech."
Sandys said her sculpture represents freedom.
"But in order to represent freedom, I have to represent unfreedom," Sandys said. "And so I wanted to have a full stretch of the wall with two spaces cut out, one like a man, one like a woman."
Today, people can pose in and walk through the cut-out silhouettes.
"It's a bit like they can make their own wish, like a wish or decision," Sandys said. "Sometimes I walk through and when I'm walking through, I think, what should I wish for or decide to do?"
The pieces cut out from the silhouettes aren't in Fulton — Sandys gave the figures to the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York.
Sandys said she believes her sculpture is still relevant today.
"We can use this anniversary as an example of how divided countries — Germany was divided into east and west — how divided countries can breakthrough and work together, learn to live with each other," Sandys said.