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Movie star, 1 African-American, no women: Things you did and didn’t know about the Atlanta Cyclorama

ATLANTA — Where can you find a Presidential movie mansion, a 125-year-old painting that’s longer than a football field, gardens and a tiny door?

Find all that and more at the Atlanta History Center.

The center’s largest piece is this painting that stands 49 feet tall, is longer than a football field and weighs over 10,000 pounds. It’s now a multimedia experience called Cyclorama: The Big Picture.

“Imagine the viewer in 1886, you’ve never seen color photographs, about the only thing that you see are woodcuts in a newspaper, black and white, still images,” the Atlanta History Center’s Gordon Jones said. “You’ve never seen anything this size. You’ve never seen films. And you walk into this space and you’re completely immersed in this scene, and you can’t see where it ends in your peripheral vision and you can’t see where it ends at the top or the bottom. You’re in the middle of the battle. You’ve never seen anything like this before.”

The Cyclorama depicts The Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864. Jones describes the cyclorama somewhere between history and art, fact and imagination.

WHAT’S IN THE CYCLORAMA: Movie star, war celebrities, one African-American, no women-watch the video above to learn more.

It was built for entertaining audiences. Visiting and viewing one of these is something people did back in the late 1800s. When it toured Northern regions, it showcased a Northern victory, which the battle of Atlanta was. But when the traveling production turned South, the cyclorama’s tale was spun another way to showcase the Confederacy.

“You’re not going to see another one of these outside of here and Gettysburg, Penn. They are the only two surviving cycloramas in the United States from this period that are currently on display,” Jones said. This right here is a piece of entertainment and Civil War history.”


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