Opening Fall 2018
Mayor Kasim Reed announced the relocation of the cyclorama painting in July 2014, on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta. The Atlanta History Center entered into a 75-year license agreement for the relocation and long-term preservation, restoration and maintenance of the painting, the Texas steam engine, and other artifacts.
In a move of historic proportion and requiring a major feat of engineering, The Battle of Atlanta cyclorama painting moved in February 2017 from its Grant Park home to the new custom-built 23,000-square-foot Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker Cyclorama Building at the Atlanta History Center.
The transfer of one of the city's rarest historic treasures, which has called its current Grant Park facility home since 1921, was orchestrated by a team of Atlanta History Center staff experts, working with some of the best minds in the highly specialized field of cyclorama conservation. The team’s processes have included strength-testing the canvas, documenting the current condition of the paint layers and fiberglass backing, and conducting stabilization conservation efforts needed prior to moving the painting.
The painting is now unscrolled in its new home and is undergoing a full restoration, including restoring seven feet of sky across the top of its full circumference. The 128 plaster figures that are the focal point of the painting’s diorama will also be restored. The full experience, complete with the addition of the restored 1856 Texas locomotive and enhanced interpretation and exhibitions, is projected to open in fall 2018.
The exhibitions to be presented in the Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker Cyclorama Building will add thoughtful context about the battles for Atlanta and the Civil War as well as the history of cycloramas.
The History Center will utilize a multitude of perspectives to interpret the painting, not only in the context of a single battle, but also in a national context of a country divided by war. This interpretation will consider the role of slavery in the Civil War and the impacts of the conflict on American history. The cyclorama experience includes stories of art, entertainment, science, and memory and the meaning of history.
Restoration of the Texas, an important artifact of Atlanta’s early railroading days, and famed for its pivotal role in 1862’s Great Locomotive Chase, was completed in April 2017 at the North Carolina Transportation Museum. The locomotive was relocated to Atlanta History Center in May 2017 and will open to the public in winter 2018.
At the Atlanta History Center, the Texas is in a glass-enclosed exhibit gallery prominently placed on the front of the museum building, visible at all hours and lit up at night. Alongside the Texas will be an exhibition focused on the history of the famous locomotive, including the story of the Great Locomotive Chase, as well as the vital role of railroads in Atlanta and the Southeast.
All of these enhancements strengthen The Battle of Atlanta cyclorama painting as an important teaching tool. In its Grant Park location, approximately 12,000 Atlanta Public Schools students were granted free access to the Cyclorama each year. The History Center, which currently serves 50,000 school children annually, is committed to serving our public schools and providing teachers with a unique educational experience for the students. All Atlanta Public Schools 5th-grade students will continue to receive free annual school tours of the The Battle of Atlanta cyclorama painting, as they did when it was located at Grant Park.
Seeded by a lead legacy gift of $10 million from Atlantans Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker, the Atlanta History Center has raised $35.2 million for the project, including $10 million for an endowment that ensures the ongoing care and safe-keeping of The Battle of Atlanta painting and the other objects from the Grant Park Cyclorama over the 75-year agreement.
The New York Times
"A Painstaking Mission to Save Atlanta’s Colossal Civil War Painting"
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"The Cyclorama: How to Move a 6-ton Painting"