• Panorama Rouen 1431
    created by Yadegar Asisi in 2016
    photo © asisi

City of Atlanta unveiled plans to move the Atlanta Cyclorama

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

On 23 July 2014, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed unveiled plans to move the Atlanta Cyclorama and its artifacts, including the locomotive Texas from their current Grant Park location to the campus of the Atlanta History Center.

In addition, the Mayor revealed plans for Zoo Atlanta’s adaptive reuse of the current Cyclorama building to create a renovated space for administrative offices, as well as a new event space, which will overlook a newly enlarged habitat area for their African elephants.

Sheffield Hale, President and CEO of the Atlanta History Center:

"We believe the Atlanta History Center is the best long-term solution for the Cyclorama. This unique, historic artifact must have the expertise and tools – including financing, restoration, preservation, and interpretation – to ensure its ongoing care and conservation for generations to come. We are the only institution with an existing infrastructure that can provide the needed level of stewardship and long-term sustainability at no cost to Atlanta taxpayers.

Pending the approval of the City Council, the Atlanta History center plans to begin the initial conservation of the 1886 painting The Battle of Atlanta in its current Grant Park building before moving it to a custom-built, 23,000 square foot addition located behind our new Veterans Park at the corner of West Paces Ferry and Slaton Drive. Once installed in the new building, the History Center intends to restore the painting to its full size and to re-create the 128-year-old painting’s original visual perspective – both of which have been lost for nearly 100 years. In total, we would restore 3,268 square feet of the painting that has been missing since these parts of the Cyclorama were cut off and removed in 1921 to fit into the current building in Grant Park. As a result, we can hang the Cyclorama painting in its originally designed hyperbolic or hourglass shape, restoring the original three-dimensional illusion that has been lost in the current building.

The Atlanta History Center has secured financial commitments totaling $32.2 million-which are contingent upon full City Council approval- from a select group of donors and foundations, including a $10 million gift from Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker that will be used as an endowment for the long-term care and maintenance of the painting. The Whitakers decided to make this gift after reading an article that appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution eighteen months ago about the need to save this rare treasure.  In honor of their generous contribution, which jumpstarted this project, the new addition of The Battle of Atlanta painting and Texas locomotive to our campus will be housed in the “The Lloyd Tait and Mary Ann Baker Whitaker Building.”

We believe the History Center is our city’s best resource to interpret the painting, not only in the context of a single battle, but in a national context of a country divided by war. Placed in a fuller context, the painting must be used to tell not only the stories of that specific battle or of the Atlanta Campaign, but the significance of the Civil War in national history.

The Atlanta History Center has the most comprehensive collection of Civil War artifacts - and the most comprehensive collection relating to the Atlanta Campaign and to the Atlanta Cyclorama itself - at one location in the nation. This provides the opportunity to make connections between the Cyclorama and other artifacts, archival records, photographs, rare books, and contemporary research to tell richer, deeper stories about how popular and historical attitudes toward the Civil War have changed over time.

The addition of the Cyclorama at the Atlanta History Center would raise the visibility of the artifact both locally and nationally as the Atlanta History Center and Atlanta become a new nexus for Civil War research and interpretation. 

While today’s announcement is an important first step, there is much to be done before the painting is moved to our campus, including full approval by City Council. 

You are now able to view more information at www.AtlantaHistoryCenter.com/Cyclorama, where we will provide updates and information, including a fly-through animation of the new additions to our campus. Please feel free to share this information with friends, and family.

This is an exciting day for Civil War history!   If you have any questions or concerns about this project, please feel free to contact me or our Senior Military Historian, Dr. Gordon Jones (GJones@atlantahistorycenter.com)."