12 February 2017

Packing & Moving #History #Atlanta #Cyclorama Off to a New Home #ArtHistory #Engineering

This week, the Battle of Atlanta, a 6-ton, 132-years-old, $7.5 million cyclorama painting was divided (into two parts) bundle up, rolled onto very large spindles, loaded onto a flat bed semi truck and moved to its new home at the Atlanta History Center. Not only will the painting be restored to its original glory (replacing pieces truncated over the years), but the Atlanta History Center's Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker Cyclorama Building (built expressly to house the painting) should insure that it's maintained for generations to come. Not bad for an artwork that was painted in 1885 and only intended to be a temporary event piece. (Cycloramas were rather like the circus, traveling from town to town for viewing shows. These "living" paintings, erected as a mise en scène, were precursors to motion pictures. At the height of the genre there were hundreds of them traveling around offering everyman a front-row seat to historical events. The paintings were often simply discarded once their run was over.)

For me, a history buff --- and specifically a Civil War history enthusiast --- a native Georgian and an Atlanta area resident, this is great news, as I was one of the countless school children who made secondary school field trip visits to the Atlanta Cyclorama Building in its old home at Grant Park. In fact, visiting the Atlanta Cyclorama with my elementary school classmates and watching as the Battle of Atlanta "occurred" right before my eyes while moving seats ferried us around the circular backdrop and smoke & gunfire special effects puffed and boomed in time to a recorded narration that gave a play-by-play battle tour is a main reason I became fascinated by Civil War history in the first place. I was pleased to hear that the piece is to be restored and installed in a new home as it's a now rare and important historical artifact. It was also neat seeing all the video footage of the engineering feat/s that it took to safely move the ginormous thing. (It took over 18 months of planning to get to the point of the actual move this week.) I'll definitely plan to visit once the painting goes on public display again (estimated to be Fall 2018). It will be like seeing an old friend.

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