Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum
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Cyclorama of the Battle of Atlanta
Atlanta Cyclorama building
|Architect||American Cyclorama Co.; John Francis Downing|
|NRHP Reference #||71000274|
|Added to NRHP||December 9, 1971|
The Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum is a civil war museum located in Atlanta, its most noted attraction being the Atlanta Cyclorama, a cylindrical panoramic painting of the American Civil War Battle of Atlanta. The museum is located in historic Grant Park, adjacent to Zoo Atlanta.
Visitors view the cylindrical painting from the inside, entering through an entrance in the floor. After being seated, the central cylinder rotates slowly affording a view of the entire painting. The painting at one time was the largest oil painting in the world, and if unrolled would measure 42 feet high by 358 feet long. It held this record until 2004, when it was surpassed in size by a mural at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo measuring 32 feet high by 800 feet long.
The Cyclorama was narrated at one time by volunteers, some of whom were veterans or widows of veterans of the Civil War. In 1960, Atlanta Mayor William B. Hartsfield accepted the donation of a recorded narration written by Junius Andrew Park, Jr., in honor of his father, Junius Andrew Park, Sr., who was born and raised in Atlanta. Research was done by Lurline Richardson Park, the writer's wife. The narration was musically scored by Atlanta musician Sam T. Wilhoit and the narration was read by Hollywood actor Victor Jory, who appeared in the original motion picture, Gone with the Wind. All parties donated their time and labor. In later years, a revised narration was produced and narrated by actor Shepperd Strudwick.
Civil War museum
The museum displays pictures and artifacts from the Civil War, including the Texas, a steam locomotive that pursued the captured train the General in the Great Locomotive Chase during the war. This raid was depicted in the 1927 Buster Keaton film The General and the 1956 Disney film The Great Locomotive Chase.
A movie theater inside the museum shows a short film about the Atlanta Campaign, narrated by James Earl Jones, to visitors before they view the painting. The cyclorama painting itself is augmented by a three-dimensional diorama in front of the painting and a narration of the events of the battle and the history of the painting. A popular story concerning the diorama involves actor Clark Gable. During the celebrations surrounding the opening of the film Gone with the Wind, the film's actors visited the Atlanta Cyclorama. Gable allegedly claimed that the only way the painting could be any more magnificent was if he were in it, prompting the management to add Gable's features to one of the sculptures in the diorama, that of a dying soldier.
- Official website
- New Georgia Encyclopedia
- Then / now photographs of the Cyclorama building, taken in 1953 and 2005
- Website of the International Panorama Council IPC listing all existing panoramas and cycloramas worldwide