Cleaning of the Gettysburg Cyclorama Painting Includes an Opportunity to Watch

 

The Cyclorama painting at Gettysburg, with a cannon in the foreground.  Photo by Bill Dowling.

The Cyclorama painting at Gettysburg, with a cannon in the foreground. Photo by Bill Dowling.

Beginning Monday, January 7, the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting will be getting a routine cleaning and the public is invited to watch.

The Gettysburg Foundation and the National Park Service invite visitors to the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center between January 7 and February 1 for an extraordinary opportunity to view the Cyclorama painting while it receives a special cleaning by acclaimed Chief Conservator David L. Olin and his crew of conservators. The rare 377 foot painting weighing 12.5 tons was installed when the new Museum opened in 2008 with plans to survey the environmental surroundings and condition of the painting at scheduled intervals.

Each year since the museum opened in 2008, Chief Conservator David Olin has assessed the condition of the painting.

As often happens with paintings, especially large ones, she’s not as clean as she used to be.  Olin’s recent assessment showed a presence of some surface grime on the paint surface especially along the upper portion of the canvas and some grime and dust on the back side of the canvas as well. He advised that it was time for a cleaning, and we can expect to have to do them every 4 to 5 years. 

If the dirt is left in place, it itself into the pristine varnish and paint surface, becoming more difficult to remove. On the back of the painting, the grime would become imbedded into the lining fabric and adhesive layers. 

 

The Gettysburg Cyclorama painting. Photo by Bill Dowling

The Gettysburg Cyclorama painting. Photo by Bill Dowling

On Monday morning, Olin and his team will begin the three week process of mechanically removing dust and grime from both the front and back of the canvas.  (I’ll be interested to see if they use Q-tips again this time.)

As operators of the park’s Museum, the Gettysburg Foundation is funding and overseeing the recommended cleaning of the historic Cyclorama painting from January 7 through an expected completion date of February 1, 2013. The cleaning will take place from 8:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and will enable visitors to observe the cleaning of the painting while hearing an historic narrative of the scenes depicted in the painting by knowledgeable members of the Visitor Services Staff. Cleaning will not occur on weekends when the Cyclorama shows will return to the normal half hour program with a light show and recorded narration.

The painting depicts the fury and chaos of Pickett’s Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg. Created in the 1880s the masterpiece was restored to its full brilliance, with an overhead canopy and a three-dimensional diorama foreground that realistically features stone walls, broken fences, shattered trees and a cannon. Legend has it that when aging veterans of the Civil War first viewed it, the experience was so realistic that some broke into tears. Tickets to view the Cyclorama are available by calling 877-874-2478, online at http://www.gettysburgfoundation.org and at the Ticket Counter at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.

To learn more about the Gettysburg Foundation’s important role as the primary partner of Gettysburg National Military Park and how you can become a part of their work, visit http://www.gettysburgfoundation.org

Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant, January 3, 2013

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7 Responses to Cleaning of the Gettysburg Cyclorama Painting Includes an Opportunity to Watch

  1. Pastor Adam Barton says:

    Civil War Historian Michael Homula once prophetically remarked, “If the painting is allowed to collect dust and dirt and grime over the years–it will eventually need to be cleaned.” Those proceptive yet cryptic words ring true today and I’m happy to see the museum is keeping her clean.

  2. Rob says:

    Um, Pastor Barton, isn’t it just common sense that if something gets dirty then it will need cleaning? :/ Seriously, this “Michael Homula” is nothing special he just stated the obvious. Anyone could of said it.

    • Rob says:

      Oh and i just did some research on this “Michael Homula” and he’s NOT a Civil War Historian, he’s merely a fan/student. Hmm, friend of yours is he?

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