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The Atlanta Cyclorama
What you will find at the Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum:
Nowhere can the true drama of the Civil War battle of Atlanta be more appreciated than at the Cyclorama. The thrilling Cyclorama allows visitors to step back to July 22, 1864 and experience the Battle of Atlanta. The heroism of soldiers fighting bravely for causes they believed in is brilliantly portrayed as the painting, foreground figures, music and narrative combine to astonish the visitor.
The Atlanta Cyclorama has been on display in Atlanta since 1893. It is the longest running show in the United States. A cyclorama is a large cylindrical painting. It is theater-in-the-round. First developed in the late 1700s, cycloramas saw resurgence in popularity following the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The triumphant parties commissioned stirring portrayals of the climactic battles. General John A Logan of the Union army commissioned 11 German artists to paint the Battle of Atlanta. When completed in 1886 it was 50 feet high, 400 feet long, and weighed over 9,000 pounds. Due to years of moving around the country and extensive repairs, today it measures 42 x 358. It is still the largest oil painting in the world. George V. Gress, an Atlanta businessman, donated the Cyclorama to the City of Atlanta in 1898.
In 1921 The Cyclorama moved to its current home in Grant Park. A diorama was added in 1936. This foreground provides a three-dimensional quality, blending perfectly with the painting. It was in 1979 that the City of Atlanta decided to shut down the Cyclorama for a two-year period to repair the painting and update the museum and theater.
The centerpiece of the museum is the locomotive TEXAS. It was on April 12, 1862 that the Texas chased and recaptured the locomotive General stolen by Union raiders led by James J. Andrews. Following the war The Texas remained in service until 1908. It was moved to Grant Park in 1911 and into The Cyclorama in 1927.
In addition to the Texas there are two floors of displays of Civil War artifacts, weapons, photographs, uniforms and videos. A touch screen computer system details the war day-by-day. Other videos highlight the restoration of the Cyclorama and recount period history.
A Cyclorama tour begins in the first floor auditorium with a short film that describes events leading up to the Battle of Atlanta. Visitors are then escorted into the Cyclorama to experience the battle in the Cyclorama. As the theater rotates through history, guests are treated to surround sound with music, sound effects and narration in 5 languages. At one time Civil War Veterans were the docents that told the story of our colorful history. Today, City of Atlanta guides entertain and educate 200,000 visitors each year, telling the story of The Battle of Atlanta.
Open Tuesday thru Saturday, visitors can see a Cyclorama show every hour from 9:30 am to 4:30pm. Private shows and receptions are available all day Monday and evenings throughout the remainder of the week.