Gi­ant paint­ing of Atlanta bat­tle scene is mov­ing to new site

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

ATLANTA — A colos­sal panoramic paint­ing de­pict­ing the Bat­tle of Atlanta from the Amer­i­can Civil War will be lifted by cranes from the build­ing where it has been housed for nearly a cen­tury and then trucked to its new lo­ca­tion.

Mov­ing the Cy­clo­rama weigh­ing 5.44 met­ric tons one of the na­tion’s largest paint­ings from Grant Park to the Atlanta His­tory Cen­ter across town marks a ma­jor mile­stone in its restora­tion, his­to­ri­ans said.

The move is ex­pected to be­gin Thurs­day and take two days. Those in charge say they’re us­ing ex­treme cau­tion to en­sure the 15,000-square­foot paint­ing is not dam­aged.

“If there’s anything that en­dan­gers the paint­ing, we will slow down to a crawl,” said Howard Pous­ner, an Atlanta His­tory Cen­ter spokesman.

The paint­ing’s vivid scenes of charg­ing sol­diers, rear­ing horses, bat­tle flags and bro­ken bod­ies stretch the length of a foot­ball field, from the back of one end zone to the other, when it is fully un­furled and on dis­play.

In prepa­ra­tion for its big move, it has been cut at a seam into two pieces. Both pieces have been rolled onto gi­gan­tic, cus­tom-built steel spools, each of them taller than a four-story build­ing.

Holes have been cut in the con­crete roof of the Atlanta Cy­clo­rama and Civil War Mu­seum in Grant Park, near Zoo Atlanta. Cranes will be used to lift th­ese spools of painted his­tory through the roof, and then onto wait­ing trucks for the trip north to a brand new build­ing un­der con­struc­tion at the Atlanta His­tory Cen­ter, Pous­ner said.

The art­work, cre­ated by the Amer­i­can Panorama Co. in Mil­wau­kee in the 1880s, is one of only two such panora­mas on dis­play in the na­tion. The other one is at Get­tys­burg Na­tional Military Park in Penn­syl­va­nia.

Be­fore the golden age of movies, the panora­mas that of­fered a 360-de­gree view of bat­tles and other his­toric events are “some­times de­scribed as the 3-D IMAX movies of their time”, the his­tory cen­ter said in an­nounc­ing this week’s move.

The pop­u­lar­ity of vis­it­ing the panora­mas made their cre­ation a lu­cra­tive busi­ness for a time, and sev­eral Ger­man im­mi­grants were hired by the Amer­i­can Panorama Co. to paint the panora­mas at the Mil­wau­kee com­pany.

Now, a 140-year-old di­ary writ­ten by one of the main pain­ters is pro­vid­ing new in­sights about how they vis­ited Atlanta to make sketches for the Cy­clo­rama, and then re­turned to Mil­wau­kee in a some­what frantic ef­fort to com­plete the work on time.

“His diaries are es­sen­tially the only first-hand ac­counts of any of the pain­ters who worked in Mil­wau­kee at the time,” said Kevin Abing, an archivist at the Mil­wau­kee County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety.

Atlanta ar­chi­tects, en­gi­neers and oth­ers have been work­ing with Ger­man, Swiss and Amer­i­can con­ser­va­tors to pre­pare for the move and restora­tion of the paint­ing. It will go on dis­play again next year in a new 23,000-square-foot build­ing on the grounds of the Atlanta His­tory Cen­ter, of­fi­cials said.

The new build­ing will in­clude a view­ing plat­form that rises 12 feet from the gallery floor, giv­ing view­ers “the sense of be­ing en­veloped by the 360-de­gree ex­pe­ri­ence”, his­tory cen­ter of­fi­cials said.

JEFF MARTIN / ASSOCIATED PRESS

John Kindt looks over draw­ings cre­ated in the 1880s by his great­grand­fa­ther, Louis Kindt. in March.

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