The Gettysburg cyclorama building

The fate of the Gettysburg Cyclorama Building reached a new phase last week when the Park Service contracted with consultants Vanasse Hangen Brustlin to perform an environmental impact study of the 1962 building. As many of you know the Park Service intended to demolish the Richard Neutra designed structure a few years ago after completion of the new visitors center. Those plans were complicated by advocates who maintained the building should be saved for its historic and architectural significance.

The Park Service essentially has three options, though the final decision maybe be out of the hands of the NPS: keep the building on its current site, move it to another location, raze it. Several months ago the Park Service announced it was seriously exploring option two.

This writer’s preference is either to demolish the structure or find a new home for it. I have made my argument here before and so won’t repeat it. The report will be be available to the public in early 2012.

Atlanta Cyclorama building

The new home for the Gettysburg cyclorama in the visitors center was long overdue and others are taking notice. Today a group from Atlanta travelled to Gettysburg to inspect the new facility and make recommendations for Atlanta’s own cyclorama. That painting is housed in a late nineteenth century structure (above) that cannot offer the protection the delicate artwork needs. Moreover, the building is located in a part of the city that is now off the beaten path for most Atlantans. Attendance has been declining for some time. And what indifference cannot kill off, shrinking budgets might. Finding a longterm solution to the Atlanta cyclorama’s financial and other problems may be easier said than done.

(image/Scott Ehardt)

3 Comments

Filed under Gettysburg, Museums, National Park Service

3 responses to “The Gettysburg cyclorama building

  1. I am sorry to hear of the contraversy with the Cyclorama in Gettysburg. As an Atlanta native and professional storyteller and owner of a sucessful tour company in Atlanta (Historical & Hysterical Tours, Inc.) I can tell you that the problems with the Atlanta Cyclorama have nothing to do with the NPS wanting to reinterprete the building.
    The city of Atlanta has done everything they can to bury the Civil War history here. Their approach to anything that doesn’t fit their narrative is to eliminate it. I spent a lot of time before and during the Olympics in 1996 entertaining corporate and International groups there. However a change in command brought a black director who used only black soldiers as interpreters. Given that there were no black officers in the civil war and no black battle troups with Sherman the presentations were wrong. I pride myself in following the historical record no matter who is offended (North of South) which is how I’ve been doing this full time for 20 years. The cyclorama is not in a declining neighborhood but a vibrant one whish is part of the battlefield depicted in the painting. Leave it where it is and hire people who know what to do with it.

  2. Peter, thanks for the comment. I hope they can find a new location for the old Gettysburg cyclorama building. In my view at least, it is just in the wrong place where it is.

    I hope the powers-that-be in Atlanta understand the importance of the Atlanta painting and think longterm. The work of art deserves to be preserved for future generations. With any luck the sesquicentennial will create interest in the Atlanta cyclorama and the building. Let me know if you hear anything more about it.

    • Thanks for providing an opportunity to vent. Sometimes all we can do is tell the truth and hope by shining the lights on some of the “roaches” they will flee.
      While the Gettysburg Cyclorama is dealing with legitimate space concerns, the Atlanta Cyclorama is being set up by the same folks who have created a “tourism mall” around the Georgia Aquarium. Look for an announcement in the furture declairing that the Cyclorama will no longer be on the battlefield of Atlanta but next to Coca Cola, the Aquarium, the Civil Rights Museum and a host of others around Centennial Olympic Park.