- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 17, 2005

Visitors to Gettysburg National Military Park will get to see the 112-year-old cyclorama of “Pickett’s Charge” for the last time Sunday, at least for about two years.

The 360-degree circular oil-on-canvas painting that depicts the climactic Confederate attack on the Union center on July 3, 1863, will be removed for restoration. It will return for public viewing in November 2007 when the new National Park Service Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg is expected to open, officials said.

Repairing the painting is the final phase of museum alterations at the historic Civil War battlefield, where President Lincoln made his brief but most memorable speech about the bloody battle that ultimately unified a young nation.

“One of the critical jobs of the National Park Service is to preserve the parks, and this one is important because it is historic,” said Katie Lawhon, a spokeswoman for Gettysburg National Military Park. “This will preserve accurately this important piece of history.”

The painting, which weighs about 3 tons, is one of the last surviving cycloramas in the United States. It will undergo a massive restoration to repair unstable sections of the canvas and restore original details removed in previous repair and preservation attempts.

The painting, which is 359 feet long and 27 feet high, is the second version of the “Battle of Gettysburg” painting by French artist Paul Philippoteaux. It was first displayed in Boston.

Mr. Philippoteaux’s first “Battle of Gettysburg” cyclorama, which took nearly 18 months to create, went on display in Chicago in 1883.

The cyclorama is next to the park visitor center. A 20-minute program highlights the painting. Visitors can see the painting from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The cyclorama was brought to Gettysburg from Boston and opened for viewing in time for the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1913.

Almost 40 years later, the painting was purchased by the National Park Service and several years later it was moved to its present home. It underwent a massive restoration and reopened for public viewing in 1962 with the dedication of the National Park Service Visitor Center.

The cyclorama is part of a $95 million project that enlarges and modernizes the Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum. The new museum will contain exhibits from the beginning to the end of the Civil War, collections of 38,000 Civil War and Gettysburg artifacts, a bookstore, a library for 350,000 texts and administrative offices.

A grand reopening is scheduled for November 2007, Ms. Lawhon said. The new location is at the intersection of Hunt Avenue and Baltimore Pike, about a half-mile away from the current site.

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