After an extensive two-year restoration process, the Cyclorama will open to the public in its new home at the Atlanta History Center next week. 

Dorsey Alston had a unique perspective of all of the activity revolving around one of the largest historic treasures in the country. Our Buckhead office is across the street from the Atlanta History Center. We watched the construction and we watched as the gigantic rolls holding the massive painting were lowered through the roof of the new wing. 

Needless to say it has been a long journey for the Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama painting

Created at the American Panorama Company in Milwaukee, the painting was an immersive experience when it debuted in Minneapolis in 1886. It moved to Atlanta in 1892. 

On July 23, 2014 – one day after the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta - Mayor Kasim Reed announced a 75-year license agreement with the Atlanta History Center for the relocation, restoration, and conservation of the Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama painting, and the Texas locomotive.

Opening Friday, Feb. 22, Cyclorama: The Big Picture will begin with an introductory video. Two levels of exhibitions will reveal the truths and myths of the Civil War; explore the untold stories of the painting; examine the role movies and visual entertainment have on shaping perspectives of the Civil War; and provide a look at the fleeting entertainment sensation of cycloramas.

Guests will enter the painting rotunda through a 7-foot-tall tunnel entry — passing underneath the diorama — before ascending an escalator to the 15-foot-tall stationary viewing platform. Here they will get a full 360-degree view of the painting, enhanced by technology and a 12-minute theatrical, larger-than-life presentation projected onto the painting.  

Here are some facts about the Cyclorama in anticipation of its grand opening later this month:  

  • The 132-year-old hand-painted work is 49 feet tall, longer than a football field and weighs 10,000 pounds. 
  • The painting originally depicted the battle from a Northern perspective as a heroic Union victory so that it would appeal to Northern audiences. When it relocated to Atlanta, it was slightly modified and advertised as “the only  Confederate victory ever painted” to appeal to its new Southern audiences.
  • It is one of only two cycloramas in the United States — the other being the Battle of Gettysburg cyclorama — making Atlanta home to one of America’s largest historic treasures.
  • Georgia businessman Paul Atkinson purchased the Cyclorama for $2,500 in 1892 and moved it to Atlanta.
  • Under the administration of Maynard Jackson, the city of Atlanta and donors spent $11 million restoring the painting and upgrading its building in Grant Park. When it reopened in 1982, it drew more than 300,000 visitors, its largest crowds ever.

For tickets to the Atlanta History Center and more about the Cyclorama, visit atlantahistorycenter.com

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