Opens February 22, 2019
After a complete restoration, The Battle of Atlanta cyclorama painting makes its exciting return in a new custom-built circular home at the Atlanta History Center, the Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker Cyclorama Building.
The cyclorama painting premiered in Minneapolis in 1886 as a tribute to Northern victory and was moved in 1892 to Atlanta, where it was interpreted differently. As one of only 17 surviving cycloramas worldwide dating from 1880 to 1920, when this mix of entertainment and art form first became popular, it is considered one of the city's rarest historic treasures.
Seven feet of sky that was trimmed incrementally from The Battle of Atlanta during its five moves before settling into its longtime Grant Park home have been returned along the top of the painting’s full circumference. Just below, puffy clouds added nearly a century ago, probably to disguise water damage, have been tweaked to be true to the original painting.
Two missing vertical sections also have been replaced: a 22-inch-wide strip depicting the road to Decatur; and a 54-inch-wide section showing trees on the opposite seam. Both of these sections extend the full height of the painting, now restored to its original size of 49 feet tall and 371 feet in diameter. The History Center is utilizing a multitude of resources to interpret the painting, not only in the context of a single battle, but in a national context of a country divided by war. This interpretation considers the role of slavery in the Civil War, detailed military questions related to the country’s deadliest war, and the impacts of the conflict on American history, Reconstruction, segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement. The cyclorama experience also is enhanced by exhibitions focused on themes including shifts in Civil War memory and how these paintings served as the virtual reality experiences of their day.