ATLANTA - There are big changes coming to one of Atlanta’s most well-known attractions. In a news conference Wednesday morning, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced plans to move Atlanta’s Cyclorama.
Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum has been located in Grant Park, near the entrance to Zoo Atlanta, for decades. The painting inside the museum has been in Grant Park since 1893. The Diorama was added years later in 1936. It has been housed in its current building since 1921.
The painting had a huge restoration 35 years ago but since then, it’s been showing a lot of wear and tear.
Wednesday, Reed announced the Cyclorama will be moving to the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead. The move still needs to be approved by the City Council.
Reed says the move will cost the History Center $32 million, but will cost taxpayers nothing.
The History Center has already raised $32.2 million for the move. That amount is sufficient to move the painting, construct a 23,000-square-foot building accessible from its main entrance, conduct an extensive restoration and create an endowment to maintain it.
“I can’t think of a better custodian for this historical work than the Atlanta History Center,” said Reed. “I'm confident that the Atlanta History Center is the right place at the right time for preserving the Cyclorama for future generations.”
The painting, officially titled “The Battle of Atlanta,” weighs nine tons and measures 42 feet tall and 365 feet in circumference. It is among the world’s largest paintings. Experts have worried that its condition has deteriorated considerably in its current building. Under the plan, the History Center would restore the painting, including putting back huge sections removed in the 1920s so it would fit in the building. The History Center also plans to add a building to its Buckhead campus built specifically for the painting.
“This unique historic painting must have the expertise and tools including financial conservation, preservation and interpretation to ensure its ongoing care and conservation for future generations,” said Sheffield Hale, with the Atlanta History Center.
Last year, City Council member Carla Smith gave Channel 2’s Richard Elliot a behind the scenes tour of the Cyclorama, where he got an up-close look at the deterioration. Elliot took several photos of the painting from the side against the building’s outer wall. The photos show moisture damage all over the canvas, and the canvas edges were fraying on the ends.
Smith says she tried to raise money to repair the building and keep the Cyclorama in her district, but eventually realized the painting needed to be somewhere else. She says she is excited about the changes.
“You’re taking three treasures and we’re making them into a world class event space, world class mural. I’m just in awe,” said Smith.
Construction is set to begin next summer and is expected to take a year.
Access to the Cyclorama will be covered by the Atlanta History Center’s regular admission, which currently costs $11 to $16.50.
After the move, Zoo Atlanta will expand, taking over the existing Cyclorama building and converting it into an event space.