Atlanta History Center: Cyclorama Construction Update

Hit “PLAY” to watch the time lapse video of The Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama Painting being scrolled onto the spindles for transportation.

The Battle of Atlanta cyclorama painting was moved to its new home at The Atlanta History Center on February 10. The relocation marked a successful transport of one of the largest and most valuable Civil War artifacts.

Visible from West Paces Ferry Road, construction of the new 23,000-square-foot Cyclorama building began in August 2015. The process of moving, preserving and restoring The Battle of Atlanta painting and other priceless artifacts from the Grant Park Cyclorama has a budget of $35 million, thanks to private donors.

Tasked with moving one of the last Cyclorama paintings in existence (weighing in at about 6 tons), the Atlanta History Center divided it into two 180-foot sections, both wrapped around two 45-foot-tall spindles. A team of experts in “high value” transportation prepared for the move by opening up two 7-foot holes in the roof of the Grant Park Cyclorama, and cranes lifted out both sections of The Battle of Atlanta onto flatbed semi trucks.

The next step? Restoration. The Battle of Atlanta will return to its original size and overall height after an international team of painting conservators, rigging experts, and structural engineers restore the painting. It is being re-backed, getting new panels, cleaned and paint touch-ups only as needed. It will be brighter, cleaner and look as good as new.

The opening date is slated for fall of 2018.

WATCH as one of the two scrolls is delivered into the Atlanta History Center via crane!

Howard Pousner, Atlanta History Center’s manager of media relations, told that, “until the film era, these cyclorama paintings were the movies. They were rolled up on spindles and the scrolls were moved from town to town for their next showing location. The hourglass effect achieved when they were hung was like the 3D of the 1800’s. The top and bottom were held at greater tension than the middle, creating an hourglass sense to give it depth. People would be upstairs standing in the middle of the auditorium to get this pre-movie era 3D scene. When the movie era surpassed the cyclorama era, people forgot about these paintings, making The Battle of Atlanta only one of three cyclorama paintings left in the United States!”

Atlanta History Center Cyclorama
The artists who painted the Battle of Atlanta in their Milwaukee studio, ca. 1886. (Photo: Wisconsin Historical Society)

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