Gettysburg Cyclorama Will Be Closed For a Week

The "Battle of Gettysburg" Cyclorama painting is installed in a special gallery at the Museum and Visitor Center in Gettysburg National Military Park. NPS photo.

The Cyclorama painting gallery at the Museum and Visitor Center in Gettysburg National Park will be closed this coming week, January 25-29, to allow workers to revise the program and address a moisture problem.

The program revision will allow visitors more time during each show to view the “Battle of Gettysburg” Cyclorama painting – the nation’s largest painting -- with the lights fully on. The temporary closing was scheduled for the last week in January, which is usually a low-visitation period, to minimize the inconvenience to park visitors.

As it turns out, this temporary closing will also give workers a chance to get rid of a moisture problem in the painting gallery.

Gettysburg National Military Park and the Gettysburg Foundation are working aggressively to address a problem with minor amounts of condensation that occasionally form on the inside of the ceiling in the Cyclorama gallery at the park’s Museum and Visitor Center. The condensation occurs during limited times of the year in periods of extremely cold weather.

The moisture problems aren’t caused by a roof leak in the Cyclorama gallery and will not require extensive repairs or a lengthy closing of the popular exhibit. Interim superintendent J. Mel Poole explains that

[the park has] engineers looking at the insulation that has been installed in between the ceiling and roof at the expansion joints above the painting gallery. This is a short term issue that happens during extreme weather events and we are confident we can resolve it without any major impacts to the painting or the visiting public.

Dripping water has thus far caused no appreciable damage to the painting.

The park’s museum services supervisor is carefully monitoring the painting. Some drops of water have hit the painting in the sky area, which is a new infill area and not historic canvas. Once the solution is found for the condensation, the effects of the water on these minimal areas in the sky will be addressed by conservators.

For more information about the temporary closing and scheduled reopening of the Cyclorama gallery, contact Gettysburg National Military Park at (717) 334-1124 x 3121.

Comments

I'm glad to hear that they are not only addressing the issue of condensation, but also the issue of how people are actually allowed to view the painting. When the refurbished painting opened to the public I attended with high expectations. I remember the way the painting was back in the 70's when I first saw it and expected big improvements. I was bitterly disappointed to be crowded onto a tiny viewing platform, with most of the painting obscured by people's heads. Not to mention the brief 15 minute presentation and the rush to clear the room afterwards by turning off the lights on the painting! The first time I was there, I had my 84 year old mother with me, who is a lot shorter than I am. She literally saw just the part of the painting that was directly in front of her. We had no time to walk around the perimeter of the painting afterwards as we were hustled out the exit. Needless to say, she prefers the way the painting was presented in the old building.

The park has attempted to address this problem by erecting a small viewing platform higher above the floor for shorter people, I guess. I stood on that for one of the presentations and did not see any difference.

I have talked to a lot of people who feel the same way--I hope that the park takes this into consideration when they revise the viewing program. The hard work of the art conservationists is all for naught if you can't take the time to see what was done. The park advertises the Cyclorama as being such a moving experience that the veterans of the battle cried when they saw it. I just about cried when I DIDN'T see it!