Posted: 10:59 am Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Cyclorama moving from Grant Park to Atlanta History Center 

By Howard Pousner

In a move of literal and figurative historic proportions, plans call for the Cyclorama, one of the city’s most valuable cultural artifacts, to leave its Grant Park home of nearly a century and relocate to a new building at the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead.

The announcement about the move of the painting was made by Mayor Kasim Reed at a City Hall press conference Wednesday morning.

Design Concept.psd

Rendering of the new site for the Cyclorama at the Atlanta History Center

A surprise part of the news is that the history center, having recently completed an unrelated $21.1 million capital improvement campaign, already has raised $32.2 million. That amount is sufficient to move the painting, construct a 23,000-square-foot building that will be accessible to visitors from its main entrance, conduct an extensive restoration and create an endowment to maintain it.

The Cyclorama painting would remain the property of the city. The history center and city still have to reach a long-term license agreement, and the deal will be contingent upon City Council approval. Zoo Atlanta would receive the existing Cyclorama building, adapting it for new uses.

A building in Grant Park has housed the massive, panoramic, city-owned painting, which depicts the Battle of Atlanta, since 1921. With the painting in need of a restoration estimated at more than $8 million, the city appointed an advisory group in 2012 to explore options.

The Cyclorama in Grant Park.

The Cyclorama in Grant Park.

 

Its members including downtown business leaders, historians, city officials and foundation leaders, the advisers recommended three options last year. The panel’s top suggestions, all including restoration, were to a move to either Centennial Park, where the College Hall of Fame will soon join a tourism-friendly lineup of attractions, or the History Center, located less than a mile from the heart of the Buckhead business/entertainment district. The third option was for it to remain in Grant Park, where attendance has been on a recent uptick but is still considered low for such a rare historic asset and not near enough for it to sustain long-term.

Though Reed and other city leaders had strong interest in the Centennial Park location, the History Center moved to the front when an Atlanta couple, Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker, stepped forward offering it a gift of $10 million in support of a relocation to Buckhead. That gift, which became the lead one in a rapidly executed fund-raising campaign, will be designated as the painting’s endowment fund.

The Whitakers, who had not previously been history center supporters, made the offer after reading a January 2013 story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that detailed the various future options for the painting.

Weighing nine tons and measuring 42 feet tall and 365 feet in circumference, the Cyclorama, officially titled “The Battle of Atlanta,” is among the world’s largest paintings and is one of only two of comparable size in the United States. The other American cyclorama, depicting the Battle of Gettysburg, is in the Gettysburg National Military Park.

As big as the Cyclorama is, it will get bigger, returning to its original dimensions as sections that were removed when it took up residence in Grant Park will be re-created as part of the restoration. That includes one panel, 6 feet wide by 50 feet high, depicting part of the battle. Also, 8 feet of sky will be re-created from photographs and added back to the top of the painting, running all the way around its 371-foot circumference. ( See more AJC images of the Cyclorama.)

A section of the Cyclorama, the massive painting of the Battle of Atlanta, appears behind some of the three-dimensional figures in the diorama that serves as the painting's foreground.

A section of the Cyclorama, the massive painting of the Battle of Atlanta, appears behind some of the three-dimensional figures in the diorama that serves as the painting’s foreground.

In total, the history center will restore 3,268 square feet of the painting removed in 1921.

Pending approval, plans call for the history center to begin the detailed restoration, panel by panel, at Grant Park while the custom-build facility on its leafy, 33-acre campus is under construction.

Construction would begin in summer 2015 and is expected to take a year. Once the building is complete, the restoration would continue in Buckhead, with the facility open during the process for the public to view. A completion date has not been projected.

Once the painstaking process is complete, the painting will be mounted in its originally designed hyperbolic, or hourglass shape, restoring the illusion for visitors that they are viewing it in 3-D.

The Cyclorama will be part of the history center’s regular admission — currently $11 to $16.50.

Another massive artifact, the Civil War locomotive the Texas, which has been displayed with the painting in Grant Park since 1927, will move to the history center, as well. Though other entities, including the city of Marietta, have expressed interest in the Texas, a principal in the Great Locomotive Chase, Atlanta leaders felt that it and the painting should remain together.

The painting and locomotive should complement what is regarded as one of the country’s pre-eminent repositories of the Civil War’s artifacts, built around the DuBose Civil War Collection of 7,500 Union and Confederate objects. The history center’s detailed exhibit, “Turning Point: The American Civil War,” remains on permanent view.

Meanwhile, Zoo Atlanta is expected adapt the Grant Park building, renovating space for administrative offices as well as a new events space that will overlook a habitat area for African elephants. The painting has had a variety of Grant Park homes since 1892.

To read the free full report on the Cyclorama moving, visit myajc.com

152 comments
FullMetalJacket
FullMetalJacket

Amen.  Reunite the Texas and the General in Kennesaw.

DougDeaton
DougDeaton

Hold on, everyone! 

I am really not sure about the viability of moving the TEXAS as to what I feel is a diminished afterthought.  At one time, I was the curator of the museum in Kennesaw, and as an expert on the history of the ANDREW'S RAID - THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE - simply know that there never was a connection between the Cyclorama and the locomotive.  She was restored after being moved inside from her last resting place in Grant Park.  Once inside, she was brought back to "visual" life by Civil War historian, the late Wilbur Kurtz, and in the livery she had at the time of the "Chase" in 1862.  The fact that they both were in the building was more of fate in order to keep artifacts under the same roof so as to be more "convenient."  Now, there should be a real "second look" at moving the TEXAS.  


PLEASE! For reasons of history, look at the subject again.  The TEXAS and the GENERAL should be together.  One thing to remember, the GENERAL was placed in Kennesaw as it was deemed property of the State of Georgia as she was purchased by the state owned W&ARR, and was not returned to Chattanooga, Tennessee where she had been for decades.  The same could be said for the TEXAS, no matter where she was previously.


In my humble opinion, the State of Georgia should be the absolute deciding factor of where the TEXAS should be moved to.  Once again, the ownership factor should revert to the State of Georgia, as was the GENERAL.  After sitting for years, and being restored for the L&N RR tour in the 1960s, she was in limbo until the Supreme Court said she belonged to the State of Georgia. I heartily suggest the two locomotives belong side by side.  That would be a draw for an incredible amount of visitors due to the great decision of placing them in one facility.  This would be a much more fitting placement.

ChuckinAlpharetta
ChuckinAlpharetta

And to further concentrate our Civil War history, Kennesaw Mountain will be moved adjascent to Stone Mountain, and then Buckhead (will be moved between them.

The actual city of Stone Mountain and its residents will be moved to (location pending huge check).

billygreen
billygreen

Sad to see the Cyclorama moved, but it's a sign of the times. Better to move it out of Atlanta completely, as that is the center of hypocritical intolerance these days, but some people just don't want to acknowledge the fact that Atlanta is a black city, hyper focused on civil rights, the leftist/flamer agenda, and all the wonderful blessings that has brought us. People who think they know everything are going to find out a lot that they don't know in the next life; that's my revenge for those who preach love and peace and expect me to obey all their infallible advice while they practice the exact opposite...

ch2
ch2

With the boom around Cenntennial Park, would have loved to see it moved there. Doubt that I would ever see tour buses going to the Atlanta History Center. After 34 years here in Georiga, I have never wanted to go to that crowded, congested, "think we are better than others" part of town.

GoDotGa
GoDotGa

$8 million is quite a price tag for a restoration. That's already a task but why add a move on top of that?

Millermoose
Millermoose

The Texas locomotive that has been in the basement has nothing to do with the Battle of Atlanta as depicted in the Cyclorama painting and should be donated or sold to the Museum in Kennesaw to be displayed alongside the General. There is no reason to move it to the AHC.  

Worker
Worker

Why not put it on the new street car line?

TeliciaLawhorn
TeliciaLawhorn

Can't believe they are moving the Cyclorama, but Mayor Reed never get the opinion of the people but I am sure the taxes will go up. First you move the Brave's where a number of people will be out of jobs because they can't get to cobb county and now the Cyclorama to Buckhead.

raven316222
raven316222

I went to the Cyclorama last month and the Atlanta History Center and the Battle of Atlanta Tour on Saturday. I'm originally from Illinois and I had a Confederate ancestor killed 150 years ago yesterday at Legget's Hill at 1-20 and Moreland.  I don't think this is a bad move at all, the Civil War collection at the AHC is incredible and this will only enhance it.

DS
DS

I think the Civil War collection at the Atlanta History Center is great, and so it makes sense to me to move the Battle of Atlanta painting there, especially since it would be fully restored to look the way it was originally intended.

likeitis
likeitis

Glad it's moving up to the North Side. You had to fight the Battle of Atlanta all over again to see it at Grant Park.

LDeMars
LDeMars

It's the mayor's town; he does what he want and then shares the decision at a news conference.  Taxes go up; traffic lights blink and stolen cars are never recovered and forget having anyone help/respond during a traffic nightmare, ie., near Piedmont Park.  So another Kasim plan.  I like the Cyclorama, have a membership to the Zoo and have been to the Cyclorama numerous times in my life.  I'm a native and enjoy that piece of history and think they tell the story very well.  I love the restoration video.  If attendance is low it's because the city stunk at marketing the Cyclorama separate from the Zoo.  It's different audiences.  I'm not an Atlanta History person; I've been there 4 times in 50 years and that was enough.  The thought of fighting my way up Peachtree is not interesting.  Atlanta continues to be a disappointment.


Kuroitora
Kuroitora

The Cyclorama is an amazing thing. I first saw it when I was approx. 9 years old and it had a profound affect on me. It brought home the war in a way books had not.  Each time I see it, I view it with the same wonder. It is a treasure that should always be available in Atlanta.

SteveinMonroe
SteveinMonroe

First, I'm not really sure how I feel about the move, not that my opinion really matters. Nearly 100 years of heritage and tradition uprooted to a flashier part of town> Okay, I guess so.... The Cyclorama's location next to the zoo has always been convenient and a great two-for-one day trip to the city, though.....

creative
creative

Does anyone want to argue? You people are insane.  Anecdotal evidence that people give in support of your arguments is pointless.  The people ITP call people otp racists.  The people otp call people itp thugs.  Really, none of you have a clue.  I like the Cyclorama.  When it moves, I will still like it.  I would be ok if it stayed put.  My life is not changed either way.  Sometimes I think you people need to relax.  

JimWarren
JimWarren

Only two hours and 99 comments and the whole thread of this has gone from opinions to name calling, race baiting, OTP vs. ITP, rich vs. poor.   Sad comment on our citizenry.  YOu may now resume your petty bickering.

southern peach
southern peach

Having lived in Atlanta all of my life I can tell you that I am truly excited that it is moving to Atlanta History Center (AHC). This will be a perfect place to showcase the diorama. I will miss it at its current location but I will also be willing to drive to AHC to see it there. Great job on preserving this practically unknown jewel. By the way, how many people have even been to AHC. It is another almost unheard of jewel in the city of Atlanta.

EdnaSmith
EdnaSmith

This is a rare historic preservation win for Atlanta -- painting restored and building repurposed for the community, FANTASTIC!!!!

WLatl
WLatl

Great news!  The Atlanta History Center is one of Atlanta's jewels that is often overlooked.

partlycloudy
partlycloudy

God, we went by bus from savannah to atlanta in the 7th grade from Isle of Hope to see everything, including that.  Not so impressive.  And then I lived in atlanta over 20 yrs and never went to see it again.  Not relevant to today.

itpveteran
itpveteran

Congrats Kasim,


While selling off the city's assets perhaps you should sell the zoo and get 40+ acres of public green space back for true public use.  The zoo has been pushing to get the Cyclorama out of Grant Park for years as they continue their grab for more and more public land.  Oh, and where is District 1 Council member Carla Smith?  Congrats to her also...for nothing.

deanodew
deanodew

Of course!!!   Grant Park is 120 years old.  The average shelf life in Atlanta is 20 (Omni, Fulton Co Stadium, Turner Field, The Dome).    20 years from now when Buckhead shows some wrinkles, it will move to Cartersville......................

sportsnut
sportsnut

This is so STUPID, but that is ATL for you. It should stay where it is. The Cyclorama is one of the reasons I go to Grant Park. Well, I guess I'll better take my family to see it one last time, because when it is moved to ATL, I'll never go again !!!!!!!

RichardPlenty
RichardPlenty

Bring it to the Braves Development in Cobb, listening Tim Lee?

Bhorsoft
Bhorsoft

The Texas really belongs at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw.  The General is there from "The Great Locomotive Chase" and the Texas was the locomotive that ended up chasing the General.  It is fitting that it should be reunited.  Hope that happens someday.

FullMetalJacket
FullMetalJacket

@DougDeaton  Yes.  The Texas and the General belong together in Kennesaw (Big Shanty), starting point of the Great Locomotive Chase.  Maybe not side by side, but maybe back to back or tender to tender.

deanodew
deanodew

@likeitis Haven't been to Grant Park since disco was king I see...........

creative
creative

@JimWarren agreed JIm!!  Sanity hopefully will prevail soon, but I doubt it.  haha.  

deanodew
deanodew

@WLatl What is your point?  Many folks think Grant Park is a jewel.

willis927
willis927

Did you read the article or are you just stupid? The city will retain ownership of the Cyclorama. In bright blue letters.

GoDotGa
GoDotGa

@deanodew You've not been to the Tellus museum in Cartersville. It will last centuries.

creative
creative

@sportsnut Are you retarded.  You must be a grown man that wears sports jerseys

deanodew
deanodew

@Bhorsoft  The Southern Museum of Civil War will be moving to Buckhead as well.  At least when Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker pony up for it................

ATLWmn
ATLWmn

@deanodew @WLatl I'd like to meet those folks.  Grant Park hasn't been a jewel in years.  It may be once more though, if it keeps it up.

RationalThoughts67
RationalThoughts67

@sportsnut Don't you just love people that come on here and rant about Atlanta when they don't have a clue about what they are talking about?

EdnaSmith
EdnaSmith

@deanodew @Bhorsoft  Does this mean you will be donating to save history in Grant Park or are you just going to complain about people that actually do something?