Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum

Come relive the Battle of Atlanta with the Atlanta Cyclorama Experience

03/21/2011  |  YAKINGMA ROBINSON
History Museum

The 150th anniversary of the Civil War has begun in 2011, and will be commemorated during the next four years, leading up to one of the last major battles to end the war, the Battle of Atlanta.

The Battle of Atlanta was very significant in the overall Civil War due to its potential effect on Lincoln’s re-election as president and Atlanta’s transformation into a flourishing city with a great future. As you cross the threshold of the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum, you are setting foot into the pages of history.

Nowhere can the true drama of the Battle of Atlanta be more appreciated by students and educators than at the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum!

The question most frequently asked by curious visitors is, “What is a Cyclorama?” By definition, a Cyclorama is a large pictorial representation that completely encircles the viewer. While seated on a slow revolving platform, you feel as if you are in the midst of the scrimmage, while being educated through narration, spotlights and surround sound effects, with horses galloping, gun shots peppering the air and rebel yells to boot. The Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum is where school children, educators, and visitors from all over the world assemble to experience this slice of our nation’s history.

The Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum is a wonderful place for educators to bring students to stimulate learning about Civil War history and the Atlanta battle. The Cyclorama offers a wide variety of educational tools, resources and references for a fun learning experience. The museum’s educational staff will speak to school groups about various Civil War topics and bring history to life in an entertaining and informative way.

The museum also has a bookstore stocked with souvenirs, memorabilia, books and civil war replicas which are great for literary knowledge, school projects and reports. The Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum also serves as a haven for the history buffs and Civil War Scholars!

The Atlanta Cyclorama offers scavenger hunts for elementary and middle school students that encourage them to explore and learn about the museum and paintings, and have fun while doing it! Students will be able to follow written and oral directions, research information, understand sequencing of events, describe locations utilizing a map, and read for information and comprehension.

The World’s Largest Oil Painting Depicting the Battle of Atlanta

Twenty two years after the Battle of Atlanta, the events of that fateful July day came to life again, via the tools possessed by a skillful battery of 11 German, Austrian and Polish artists from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Remarkably, this masterpiece was completed in 22 months. As a completed work, the painting is not only impressive in content, but also in size. The artists utilized over 12,000 gallons of oil paint, resulting in a total weight of 9,334 pounds. The painting is over 15,000 square feet of Belgium linen measuring 42 feet in height,358 feet in circumference, nearly the size of a football field.

The Cyclorama exhibit includes a diorama, a three dimensional installation, that blends seamlessly with the base of the painting giving a special visual effect with soldiers and cannons made of plaster, trees and greenery made of plastic and dirt made of fiberglass. This three dimensional foreground enhancement is a great expansion of the painting depicting the battlefield.

The Cyclorama experience, guided tour begins in the auditorium with a film entitled “The Atlanta Campaign” narrated by James Earl Jones. Once the film concludes guests are escorted through what children refer to as the “secret tunnel” to enter the Cyclorama.

The Great Locomotive “Texas” and other Civil War exhibits

The Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum is housed in a two-story stone building that was built in 1921 to house a collection of authentic Civil War artifacts, weaponry, battle maps and Civil War photography.  In 1927, the locomotive, Texas, was added. This popular locomotive was utilized to recapture the locomotive, General, after a raiding party of Federal soldiers, disguised as civilians, led by the spy, James J. Andrews, seized and stole the General at Big Shanty in Kennesaw, Georgia, and steamed northward towards Chattanooga, Tennessee. Today it remains a tribute to American courage and valor. The story of this revolutionary chase was immortalized in the Walt Disney motion picture “The Great Locomotive Chase.”

There is an archived collection of Civil War memorabilia in the two-level museum, including life-like mannequins in authentic civil war clothing, displays of the battle timeline, a video of the restoration of the painting, and a variety of civil war themed movies. These interactive presentations are an integral part of the museum’s exhibits and will keep your students engaged in learning.

The Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum is more than just a local attraction or field trip destination. It is an institution of extended learning outside the classroom that offers an interactive experience that engages students of history about the Civil War.   

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