First Look: Cyclorama debuts at Atlanta History Center

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It’s a true icon of Atlanta, and a relic from the days before motion pictures and television dominated entertainment.  And now, after years of planning and meticulous work, famed painting The Battle of Atlanta — better known as the Atlanta Cyclorama — is about to debut in its new home at the Atlanta History Center.

Cyclorama: The Big Picture is set to open at the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead on Friday, February 22nd, finally putting the massive work of art back on public view.  The Battle of Atlanta was painted by 17 German artists over the course of several months back in 1886, and measures an astounding 49 feet tall and 371 feet long. 

Known as a cyclorama, the painting stretches into a circle and is viewed from the inside, giving viewers the illusion that they are surrounded by the active scene depicted on the canvas.  Cycloramas were touring fads at the time, but The Battle of Atlanta was eventually purchased and moved to Atlanta’s Grant Park, where it remained until 2017, when it was rolled into two giant cylinders and moved to Buckhead.

Aside from restoring the painting and the diorama figures which surround it (including the most famous of all, Clark Gable), the History Center team constructed the new building to allow the cyclorama to be seen as originally intended.  Guests will now walk through a tunnel and then take an escalator to a 15-foot-tall platform, giving them a full 360-degree view of The Battle of Atlanta. 

Unlike in the Grant Park building, there are no seats and the platform doesn’t move, giving visitors a chance to spend more time studying each section of the painting.  Projectors underneath the platform will also display a 12-minute educational presentation onto the actual painting at regular intervals.

Once it opens to the public, Cyclorama: The Big Picture will be included with Atlanta History Center general admission, and parking at the center is free.  More information on hours and admission prices may be found here.

Good Day Atlanta’s Paul Milliken recently got the exclusive opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at the Atlanta History Center as artists finished up the restoration work.  Click the video player above for the first look at Cyclorama: The Big Picture.