Moving the 6-ton Battle of Atlanta painting across town may be as historic as the painting itself.
Atlanta historians began moving the massive cyclorama on Thursday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Unveiled in 1886, the painting is being transferred from the Grant Park, Atlanta, building it has been housed in since 1921, to the Atlanta History Center.
"We're confident," said Jackson McQuigg, one of the leaders of the moving team and vice president of properties at the history center. "“We’ve done the homework and have the right team of contractors, all of whom are very invested in this project. It’s in good hands. And we will be hands on to make sure things go well.”
It's a massive undertaking, taking two days. The history center said the painting is about the length of a football field (359 feet) and 42 feet tall.
Here's how it's going to happen. The painting will be separated into two parts and wrapped around two enormous spools, which weigh 3 tons each. The spools will then be lifted through two 7-foot holes cut in the current facility's concrete roof. Two trucks will take it to the history center, about 11 miles north. There they will be lowered through a 10-foot square opening in the roof of the 23,000 square-foot Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker Cyclorama Building.
The painting, over the course of several months, will be restored, and the exhibition will open again in the fall of 2018.
The painting, which depicts the 1864 battle in Fulton County, Georgia, will remain at its new location for 75 years. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced the move and the history center's new license agreement in 2014 on the 150th anniversary of the battle. The history center is responsible for the painting's preservation, restoration and maintenance.
How much does this whole process cost? The history center said it raised $35 million for the project.
The history center said the painting was created by about 20 artists, most of whom are German, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the late 1800s. It cost $40,000 to make.
It first opened in Minneapolis in 1886 before moving to Indianapolis, Chattanooga, Tenn. and then Atlanta, where it was donated to the city.
“The Cyclorama has much to teach us. It tells a story that extends well beyond the Civil War," said the history center's senior military historian Gordon Jones. "In fact, it is the largest single artifact in existence to best tell the story of how the Civil War has been remembered, used, misused, forgotten and interpreted over time. Literally and figuratively, it’s one of the biggest artifacts in the country, and its subject, and home, is Atlanta.”