For most visitors to the hallowed ground of Gettysburg the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitors Center is a must see. The museum will help get you oriented to the battlefield, is where you can view the large museum, is where most tour guides are hired at and more. Included in the price of admission is the legendary Cyclorama! The Gettysburg Cyclorama depicts what for most is the defining moment of the battle, if not the entire Civil War, Pickett's Charge. Taking place on July 3, 1863 after a large Confederate artillery fire troops led by General George Pickett (with others) attacked the center of the Union line only to be repulsed. From there the Confederate army moved back toward Virginia and in many people's mind the battle turned the fortunes toward the Union.
Licensed Battlefield Guide Sue Boardman and Kathryn Porch have written an interesting and much needed guide to go with the Cyclorama. A cyclorama is a panoramic painting viewed in the round from a central platform that allows viewers a 360 degree view. In Europe these are often called panoramas. While originating in Europe the trend reached American soil in the 1870's with landscapes, religious works, and historical events being the main subjects. The technical aspects of a cyclorama are huge with both painting and architectural features of the building needing to work together to achieve the maximum viewing pleasure. In addition to the painting a diorama must be built between the viewing platform and the painting in order to extend the paintings features and create the full illusion desired. When these aspects work together the result is fantastic.
|Paul Philippoteaux in|
front of Pickett's Charge
Boardman and Porch have done a fine job in outlining the history of this marvelous painting. The book is short and broken into logical chapters. Included is a quite helpful "key to the scene" section where the authors briefly label sections of the painting in order to help viewers follow the action. Included in this section are vintage and current photos showing what the actual areas look like. While this book is not cheap ($20 for less than 100 pages) it is a worthwhile purchase. The writing is good and the photos are wonderful. Recommended if you have an interest in the history of Gettysburg.