After years of being moved, damaged, sold and altered to reflect different agendas, The Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama painting has a new home in the Atlanta History Center.
The huge circular work has been restored so visitors can see the artifact as it was meant to be viewed, and the exhibit encourages visitors to think about the "big picture" of cultural context, myth, memory and more.
If you'd like to check out the Cyclorama reopening, here are five things you need to know:
When can you go?
Buying tickets in advance is recommended, since you'll hear and see a timed audio-visual presentation, and the viewing platform accommodates a limited number of guests at one time. You'll need to select a date and time to attend, with the first show starting at 10:30 a.m. each day and the last starting at 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 5 p.m. on weekends.
You can also try to get a walk-up ticket starting at 10 a.m. each day. About 100 walk-up tickets are available daily, but be prepared for the fact that if you get a ticket, you may be scheduled for a viewing time later in the day.
What if you miss your scheduled time?
You should arrive 30 minutes before your ticketed entry time and get in line for the exhibit 15 minutes before your entry time. If you get there more than 10 minutes after your scheduled entry time, you won't be guaranteed admission to the Cyclorama, and you won't get a refund.
How much do tickets cost?
Tickets cost $21.50 for adults, $18 for seniors 65 and up and students age 13 and up and $9 for youth age 4 to 12. Children age 3 and under are free. There's also a $3 processing fee charged with each advance ticket.
With your ticket, you'll be able to see the Cyclorama: The Big Picture exhibit as well as the rest of the Atlanta History Center, including its gardens. You can also use your ticket to see the Margaret Mitchell House within 9 days of your Atlanta History Center visit.
What will you see?
The 132-year-old Cyclorama is a cylindrical painting that's longer than a football field and stands 49 feet high. It's hung so that it creates a 3D effect, with the surface swelling toward the viewer at the horizon line and receding at the top and bottom.
The painting depicts a pivotal part of the history of Atlanta as well as that of the country – The Battle of Atlanta, which took place in 1864. About 3,000 soldiers are painted as being engaged in the battle, with an equal number in the background. It was painted to celebrate the Union victory, which was a turning point in the war.
When you see the Cyclorama, you'll listen to a 12-minute presentation and then be able to look and move about the perimeter of the viewing platform, taking time to notice its details.
What are people saying about the reopening of the Cyclorama?
The Cyclorama has received national media attention with articles about its reopening featured on websites for The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others. The Times praised the Atlanta History Center's presentation of the Cyclorama and the way it's documented, interpreted and explained. It cites "myth-puncturing wall texts on the causes and effects of the Civil War and the propaganda it produced, and in a short video projected onto the painting's surface, insists on the need for vigilance in separating history from fiction."
The Washington Post interviewed Calinda Lee, the Atlanta History Center's vice president of historical interpretation and community partnerships. It described how she " … helped craft the fuller story of the way painters, promoters and politicians had continually reshaped history on the canvas." The Post cites the multi-voiced 12-minute film and mentions that visitors learn how African-Americans were "erased from the story of the battle."
The Atlanta History Center is located at 130 West Paces Ferry Road NW in Buckhead. For more information, call 404-814-4000, or visit the center's website.
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