What is a Cyclorama?
Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama
First-time visitors to Gettysburg National Military Park often ask, what is the Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama and why should we see it? Created after the American Civil War, the Cyclorama is a colossal circular oil painting depicting the charge of Confederate infantry led by Gen. George Pickett on July 3, 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg. Painted between 1883 and 1884 by French artist Paul Philippoteaux and a team of 20 artists, the Battle of GettysburgCyclorama is one of only two Civil War Cyclorama paintings in the United States. The Gettysburg Cyclorama (on exhibit at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center) is the largest painting in the country and is a must-see for any visitor to Gettysburg. Immerse yourself in history with the Cyclorama, Film and Museum Experience.
The Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama Program
When the Gettysburg Cyclorama was first displayed, the experience was said to be so moving that veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg wept at the sight. Today, visitors can experience those same emotions through the Cyclorama/film program at the Museum and Visitor Center. The program begins with the film A New Birth of Freedom, which provides an overview of the Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War. From the film theaters, visitors ascend the escalators to the Cyclorama Gallery, where they are immersed in the climactic moment of the three-day Battle of Gettysburg, Pickett’s Charge. A sound-and-light Cyclorama program brings the battle scene depicted on canvas to life.
The Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama experience is the only complete Civil War Cyclorama experience in the country. Combined with a three-dimensional diorama foreground, a sky that disappears from view into an overhead canopy, the painting is designed to give viewers the illusion that they are standing in the middle of Pickett’s Charge on the Gettysburg battlefield.
Special “Behind-the-Scenes” Cyclorama Programs
Conservation of the Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama
In 2003, after almost a century of neglect and deterioration, the Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama painting began a five-year conservation effort to return the work of art to its original glory. The project was the largest-ever of its kind in North America and was directed by the Gettysburg Foundation, in partnership with the National Park Service. The conservation project included not only conservation of the massive Civil War Cyclorama painting, but also a re-creation of about 15 feet of sky, a three-dimensional diorama and the canopy — all of which had been lost for more than a century.
When the conservation began in late 2003, the Cyclorama measured 356-by-26 feet. Now, the Cyclorama has been returned to its original circumference of 377 feet at its widest points and 42 feet high. The painting, with its new backing and hanging system, weighs 12.5 tons!
Purchase Tickets for the Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama and FilmA New Birth of Freedom
During peak season, the film A New Birth of Freedom and the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting program runs every 15 minutes. Tickets, for the film and Cyclorama also include admission to the Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War. Timed tickets to the Cyclorama, Film and Museum Experience can be purchased at the ticket counter in the lobby of the Museum and Visitor Center, online at www.gettysburgfoundation.org or by telephone at 877-874-2478. Proceeds from ticket purchases benefit battlefield preservation.