Atlanta Cyclorama – Atlanta, Georgia - Atlas Obscura

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta Cyclorama

The Battle of Atlanta in 360 degrees, featuring Clark Gable as a corpse. 

Created in the 1880s by the American Panorama Company, the enormous battlefield panorama of the Civil War Battle of Atlanta was one of many similar popular entertainments of the era.

At 358 feet in circumference and covering 15,030 square feet, the Atlanta Cyclorama is considered to be the largest oil painting in the world. In the 1930s the considerable effect of the painting was enhanced with the addition of three-dimensional characters and objects. Eagle-eyed visitors can spot the likeness of Clark Gable standing in for a fallen soldier.

Although once enormously popular, only three significant cycloramas remain in the United States: The Atlanta Cyclorama, the Gettysburg Cyclorama and the Panorama of Versailles on display the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In California, the petite Velaslavasay Panorama in Los Angeles is a modern recreation of the art.

Although few full-scale panoramas of the hundreds that once lured crowds around the world still exist, there are a few notable survivors: In Wroclaw, Poland, the enormous 120-year-old Raclawice Panorama lets you step into the middle of the 1794 Battle of Racławice. In Istanbul, Turkey the Panorama 1453 Museum recreates the epic fall of Constantinople. A more modern example in Damascus, Syria the October War Panorama is dedicated to scenes from the 1973 October War between Israel, Egypt, and Syria.

In 2014, plans were announced to close the Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War History Museum. A subsequent move of artifacts to the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead and complete restoration of the large painting, with limited viewing of the process, followed. In February 2019, the exhibit reopened at the History Center, renamed Cyclorama: The Big Picture. 

Anyone mentioning the Cyclorama would be remiss to leave out the restored locomotive Texas. The engine was built in 1856 for the Western & Atlantic Railroad, which had established its terminus in 1837 at the site that became Atlanta. The restoration date chosen for the Texas is 1886, the year of its last major upgrade, and also the year Cyclorama was painted. The Texas has been displayed with the Cyclorama since 1927. 

Know Before You Go

Advanced tickets/reservations are recommended, and viewing of the painting is included in the price of museum admission.

Community Discussion