Grant Park: The Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama is an enormous 19th-century panorama painting that depicts combat action and battlefield landmarks in a vivid, true-to-life style.
What to See: A visit to the Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama enables contemporary audiences to simulate a 19th-century panorama viewing experience. After visitors to the Atlanta Cyclorama take their seats on a central viewing platform, the entire platform begins a slow, circular rotation in front of the climactic battlefield action. The audience's vantage point is high above the fighting, as if viewing the action from a platform 40 feet off the ground at the present-day intersection of Moreland and DeKalb Avenues.
The darkened auditorium excludes any sense of the viewers' real whereabouts, and every aspect of the Cyclorama experience is designed to heighten its visual impact. As the vast panorama appears in front of them, spectators hear a recorded narration of combat scenes, accompanied by background music, gunshots, and other sound effects. Nothing extraneous encroaches on the sprawling display of human figures, animals, landscape, and buildings, all painted in a vivid, true-to-life style.
The Atlanta Cyclorama presents a series of battlefield events, starting and ending with the intense confrontation at the Troup Hurt House and the nearby De Gress Battery. As segments of the painting are consecutively illuminated, the audience sees Federal infantry moving forward to restore their broken line; Sherman surveying the battlefield from his headquarters at the Augustus Hurt House; Logan galloping to the front to lead the Union counterattack; a distant cloud of smoke arising from the fighting in Decatur; and a Confederate division charging across the open ground atop Leggett's Hill. Visible throughout the panorama is the battle-torn terrain where for hours opposing troops engaged in close combat.
The Battle of Atlanta painting is one of two Civil War battle cycloramas still on display in the United States. The other is the Battle of Gettysburg at the Gettysburg National Military Park. The Atlanta panorama was painted in a Milwaukee studio in 1885–1886 by a group of German and Austrian artists. The painting was first publicly exhibited in Minneapolis in June 1886 and was shown in Indianapolis and Chattanooga before its Atlanta opening in February 1892. A second Battle of Atlanta panorama, completed by the same group of artists in Milwaukee, debuted in Detroit in February 1887. What became of the version shown in Detroit is not known.