Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the huge Atlanta Cyclorama painting, which has been on display in Grant Park for more than a century, will be moved to the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead.
Reed announced the move Wednesday as the city commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta during the American Civil War, which is the subject of the giant oil painting. The mayor said the painting will be housed in a new 23,000-square-foot addition to be constructed at the center.
The move and the center’s new facility combined will cost an estimated $22 million, and construction on the building is expected to begin in summer 2015. It will be located behind Veterans Park, where a greenspace is located.
“Under the stewardship of the history center, the Cyclorama will continue to be a teaching tool, and will be enjoyed by a broader audience of residents, students and visitors alike,” Reed said in a news release.
Also in a news release, center President and CEO Sheffield Hale said, “We will preserve the Cyclorama in a museum-quality environment that will ensure its availability and accessibility for generations to come.”
In May the center announced the completion of a $21.1 million capital campaign to refurbish its existing buildings. It has already secured commitments totaling $32.2 million, pending city council approval, for the new Cyclorama facility, with the lead gift of $10 million from Lloyd and Maryann Whitaker, for whom it will be named.
Center spokeswoman Hillary Hardwick said the Cyclorama’s lease between the city and the center still must be worked out and could be for 50 or 75 years.
The cylindrical panorama painting, which dates to 1885, has been shown in Grant Park since 1893 and was moved to its present building in the park in 1921. The canvas hangs in a huge circle that surrounds the viewers. A description from the Atlanta Cyclorama said the painting weighs more than 10,000 pounds and has a circumference of 358 feet.
The move, which will also include the locomotive “Texas” and other Civil War artifacts, is expected to take about two years to complete.
The building that currently houses the Cyclorama will become part of Zoo Atlanta. The zoo said in a news release it is exploring the possibilities for the structure.
“The Cyclorama building is a spectacular example of the Grant Park neighborhood’s historic architecture, in one of the few places in the city where such notable examples may still be found,” zoo President and CEO Raymond King said. “We look forward to preserving and enhancing the building while creating an asset that benefits Zoo Atlanta guests, the Grant Park community and the City of Atlanta.”
Initial plans include a special event venue that will give close-up views of elephants roaming the African savanna exhibit, which is to be expanded to give the elephants more space. The zoo also plans to revitalize the entry plaza along Cherokee Avenue.
The revitalization of the building is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars, and the zoo said it plans to launch a new capital campaign soon.
— News Editor Everett Catts contributed to this report.