Relocating the Cyclorama painting to the Atlanta History Center means more than a simple move across town for an historic work of art.
The $32 million project will feature construction of a new 23,000-square-foot building on the history center’s Buckhead campus, restoration of the 128-year-old painting to its full size, and relocation of the locomotive “Texas” and other Civil War artifacts to the center.
“We are honored for this opportunity, and believe the Atlanta History Center is the best long-term solution for the Cyclorama. Sharing history is our passion, and we are excited about incorporating these artifacts into our comprehensive Civil War collection,” said Sheffield Hale, president and CEO of the Atlanta History Center.
“We will preserve the Cyclorama in a museum-quality environment that will ensure its availability and accessibility for generations to come. Our resources and expertise uniquely position us to interpret the painting and diorama in their historic context,” Hale added.
The history center plans to begin construction next summer on a new home for the display, and the attraction is expected to open in 2016.
The project will be completed with money already raised by the center, and a $10 million donation from Atlanta art patrons Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker.
The Atlanta History Center intends to restore the painting – which depicts the Battle of Atlanta – to its original size and height by recreating a 50-foot-tall, 6-foot-wide panel that had been removed so the work could fit in the Grant Park building where it had been housed. That building will be given to Zoo Atlanta once the painting is removed.
The American Panorama Company created the huge painting in Milwaukee between 1885 and 1886. The completed work was 50-feet high, 400-feet long, and weighed more than 9,000 pounds.
The painting toured a number of cities, and was bought and sold numerous times before being purchased by Atlantan George V. Gress in 1893. Gress asked the city of Atlanta to find space for the painting, and city officials offered Grant Park.
A wooden, drum-like structure was built for the painting and Gress gave the piece to the city in 1898. The Grant Park building was dedicated in 1921 and the three-dimensional diorama was added in 1936.
City officials have discussed moving the Cyclorama for years. While the city will still own the painting, the history center’s stewardship will save the city about $1 million a year in operating costs.