Engineers prep historic 'Battle of Atlanta' cyclorama for big move

A crane lowers a portion of the Cyclorama one of the world's largest paintings on to the lorry

A crane lowers a portion of the Cyclorama one of the world's largest paintings on to the lorry

The enormous circular painting of the Civil War's Battle of Atlanta was moved February 10 from the Grant Park Cyclorama to Buckhead's Atlanta History Center.

That might not sound out of the ordinary, but this is no ordinary oil painting.

One of the two spools of the "Battle of Atlanta" painting is moved by truck from the Cyclorama building in Atlanta's Grant Park on February 10, heading to its new home at the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead.

After a 95 year stay in Grant Park, the Cyclorama, depicting the battle for Atlanta during the Civil War, is headed to the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead.

"If there's anything that endangers the painting, we will slow down to a crawl", said Howard Pousner, a spokesman at the Atlanta History Center. The work is providing many new details about how it was created at the American Panorama Milwaukee in the 1880s. Officials with the Atlanta History Center say it is one of only three paintings of its kind still intact in North America; the other two are in Quebec City and Gettysburg, PA.

The painting, divided into two sections wound onto 45-foot-tall metal spools, was moved via crane and truck in a complex procedure taking over 24 hours.

A 140-year-old diary written in German is providing new insights about how painters visited Atlanta to make sketches and then returned to Milwaukee to create the Atlanta Cyclorama.

A German translator is working to decipher the diary written by one of the painters, Friedrich Wilhelm Heine. The American Panorama Co. hired many German immigrants to paint the giant scenes at the Milwaukee company. The intent is to give historians their first look at the step-by-step process of creating the mammoth panoramic paintings.

He recounts how the painters made sketches in Atlanta atop a 25-foot scaffold over railroad tracks, despite one painter being afraid to climb it. Heine complained about one painter on his crew being late, and how the Austrians "chatter more than they are working". Over the next few months, the painting will undergo a full restoration at the History Center - including the recreation of 7 feet of sky along the top.

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.

Among those plaster figures is a dead Union soldier with Clark Gable's face.

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