The Atlanta Cyclorama, home to many of the city’s Civil War artifacts, will relocate from the Grant Park community to the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead, officials announced.
The Atlanta History Center, which will become the custodian of the artifacts under an agreement with the city, will pay for the move and restoration of the historic Atlanta Cyclorama painting known as the “Battle of Atlanta,” the move of the locomotive, “Texas,” and other Civil War artifacts to a new state-of-the-arts annex that will be built at the History Center. The move is expected to take two years to complete.
The existing Cyclorama building will be developed into a premier community and event space as part of upgrades by Zoo Atlanta.
“The relocation of the Atlanta Cyclorama to the History Center represents a unique opportunity to renew one of the city’s most important cultural and historic landmarks,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “Under the stewardship of the History Center, the Cyclorama will continue to be a teaching tool, and will be enjoyed by a broader audience of residents, students and visitors alike.”
In announcing the move, Reed was joined by Atlanta History Center Presdent and CEO Sheffield Hale and Zoo Atlanta President and CEO Raymond King. The announcement was made as the city commemorates the 150th anniversary of The Battle of Atlanta.
The 23,000-square-foot addition is planned for the northeast corner of the campus and will be connected to the current Atlanta History Museum. The structure will be built to meet appropriate museum quality standards to maintain the proper environment for conservation of the historic painting after the initial restoration. The History Center intends to restore the painting to its full size and overall height, and to re-create the 128-year-old painting’s original visual perspective – both of which have been lost for nearly 100 years, officials said. In total, the History Center will restore 3,268 square feet of the painting. Construction on the annex is expected to begin summer 2015.
Current financial commitments – which are contingent upon a long-term license agreement with the City of Atlanta - total over $32.2 million. This includes a $10 million charitable remainder trust that creates the endowment to ensure that the Cyclorama is properly maintained as long as the History Center is its custodian, at no cost to taxpayers.
The Atlanta History Center’s existing infrastructure will ensure that the Cyclorama is properly restored, maintained and preserved for generations to come. The new display method will return the painting to its original presentation as a 3-D experience. When complete, Atlanta residents, tourists, and other visitors will be able to see the Cyclorama – The Battle of Atlanta – as it was originally intended to be viewed in the 19th century.
“We are honored for this opportunity, and believe the Atlanta History Center is the best long-term solution for the Cyclorama. Sharing history is our passion, and we are excited about incorporating these artifacts into our comprehensive Civil War collection,” said Sheffield Hale, president and CEO of the Atlanta History Center. “We will preserve the Cyclorama in a museum-quality environment that will ensure its availability and accessibility for generations to come. Our resources and expertise uniquely position us to interpret the painting and diorama in their historic context.”
After the relocation is complete, the Cyclorama building will be transferred to Zoo Atlanta. The building will be developed into a unique event and community space that will include an overlook of the Zoo’s African savanna exhibit. Renovations to the building will preserve the historic character and aesthetic appeal of the original facility. Once the renovation is complete, the Zoo will feature a new entryway plaza, an enhanced African elephant exhibit and renovated workspace for administrative staff. The Zoo’s redevelopment plan also calls for an environmentally-sound underground parking solution to alleviate parking in the neighborhoods and accommodate attendance growth at the Zoo.
“The building is a treasure we look forward to preserving and enhancing,” said Zoo Atlanta President and CEO Raymond King. “We’re thrilled about being entrusted with such a beautiful space, and we’re excited about seeing this historic building get a new life as a unique and world-class event space overlooking our magnificent elephants on an expanded African savanna. We thank Mayor Reed for his leadership in making sure that these assets will be here for future generations to enjoy.”
The renovation of the Cyclorama building will be paid for by private and philanthropic dollars.
Since 2007, the City of Atlanta has partnered with the History Center to obtain professional conservation assessments of The Battle of Atlanta painting, the locomotive “Texas,” and other artifacts, as well as architectural assessments of the Cyclorama building. The relocation of the Cyclorama will save the city approximately $1 million a year in operating costs.