The Battle of Atlanta in 1864 was a defining moment in the Civil War and it’s captured in breathtaking detail in an immersive 360° painting that stands nearly 50 feet high and is longer than a football field.
These paintings, once quite famous, are called Cycloramas, and were created as touring exhibits back in the day. Atlanta is home to one of two remaining in the U.S. The painting has changed owners a few times, the winner of the battle has even been changed over the years, but it has been spectacularly restored and has a new home at the Atlanta History Center.
A specially designed two-level viewing room enables visitors to study and experience the Battle of Atlanta. The only thing missing from this experience is to pump in some aromatherapy so you can smell the gun smoke and some audio effects so you can hear the clash. But don’t worry because your imagination will surely add all of that in.
I normally like to explore on my own which you will have plenty of time to do at the Cyclorama, but the brief video that is played over the painting, followed by the optional, guided tour around the canvas, both proved to be fascinating. The docent points out specific people, places, and facts about the painting and its history that I never would have known and it was fascinating. There are even people in the painting that weren’t actually at the battle!
The new setting has done a masterful job of staging the area around and leading up to the actual painting so you actually feel like you have stepped into the battleground. And there is even a bit of whimsy as legend goes that Clark Gable visited the original painting and commented that the only thing missing was him, so he has been added to the scenery, not actually the painting, and is shown smiling above!
History buff or not, you need to add the Cyclorama to your list of things to do when in Atlanta. Oh, the other remaining Cyclorama is of The Battle of Gettysburg and is housed in Pennsylvania.