The Atlanta History Center (AHC) is a history museum and research center located in the Buckhead district of Atlanta, Georgia.
The Museum was founded in 1926, and currently consists of six permanent, and several temporary, exhibitions.
The AHC campus is 33-acres and features historic gardens and houses located on the grounds, including Swan House, Tullie Smith Farm, Wood Family Cabin and the Cyclorama.
The AHC holds one of the largest collections of Civil War artifacts in the United States.
The Atlanta History Center operates three types of exhibitions - permanent, temporary, and traveling. The six permanent exhibitions include:
• Centennial Olympic Games Museum focuses on the legacy of the Games in Atlanta.
• Turning Point exhibition focuses on the American Civil War. It contains 1,400 of the Atlanta History Center's enormous collection of Civil War artifacts.
• Metropolitan Frontiers exhibit chronicles Atlanta's expansion from farm to city.
• Shaping Traditions exhibit shows the development and attributes of Southern folk art. It includes forms ranging from clothing and food to singing and storytelling and presents both the traditional and the modern.
• Down the Fairway with Bobby Jones exhibit is based on the life of Georgia's most famous golfer, Bobby Jones, and chronicles the early development of golf in the United States.
• The Tullie Smith House is an antebellum farmhouse built by the Robert Smith family. It was originally a small farm in DeKalb County with 11 slaves, comprising 200 acres (0.81 km2).
The house was moved to the Atlanta History Center grounds in 1969, and it currently comprises the farm house, kitchen, blacksmith shop, smokehouse, double corncrib, log cabin, and barn, and several gardens.
The barn contains several animals including angora goats and sheep.
The Tullie Smith Farm Garden features plants used in 1860s gardening, and includes two parts: a field, filled with profitable vegetables, and a smaller slave's garden.
Several gardens are located next to the historic houses.
The Cherry Sims garden contains Asian and native south-eastern plants.
The Frank A. Smith Rhododendron Garden and the Swan House Boxwood Garden feature native plants.
The Quarry Garden features pre-settlement plants only.
The Swan House is named for its many swan designs. The mansion combines Renaissance revival styles with a Classical approach on the main facade.
It sits at the top of a small hill with terraced gardens and a fountain cascading down the hillside. It is surrounded by the Boxwood Garden, based upon Italian gardens.
The front landscape, two cloverleaf fountains and a terraced lawn, is one of the most photographed places in the United States.
The Wood Family Cabin is a log structure located within the Swan House woods. It is used to interpret North Georgia settler and Native American life in the 1820s and 1830s.
The Atlanta History Center is now the new home of the Cyclorama.
The Cyclorama is a rare survivor of an entertainment form that was popular in the late 1800s.
It has a unique history. This is a painting of a Northern victory, painted in the North for Northern audiences. As popularity for this form of art fell off, the painting made its way to the South where is re-characterized as a southern glory.
The Cyclorama’s first address in Atlanta was a round, wooden building assembled specifically for the painting at Edgewood and Piedmont avenues, near today’s Georgia State University campus. After attendance tailed off, the painting was sold in 1893 for $1,100 to Ernest Woodruff, the banker who would later put together a syndicate to take over the Coca-Cola Company.
Mr. Woodruff immediately resold the painting to George V. Gress, a lumber merchant who persuaded the city to let him move the attraction and building to Grant Park. An area close to present day Zoo Atlanta.
The business went bust, and in 1898, Gress donated the painting to the city. The United Confederate Veterans were holding their convention in Atlanta that year—the 1890s equivalent of the Super Bowl—and it seemed like something the old Rebs would enjoy.
The city has owned the painting ever since, which is probably why it survived. Atlanta’s is one of only three panoramic paintings left in North America, along with a scene of Christ’s crucifixion in Quebec and one of Pickett’s Charge at the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
The Cyclorama survived because Atlanta adopted it as an icon. It became tied in with the city’s self-image as rising from the ashes. It became a point of pride: We were burned in war, yet we endured and prospered.
The 132-year-old Cyclorama is a cylindrical painting that's longer than a football field and stands 49 feet high. It's hung so that it creates a 3D effect, with the surface swelling toward the viewer at the horizon line and receding at the top and bottom.
The painting depicts a pivotal part of the history of Atlanta as well as that of the country – The Battle of Atlanta, which took place in 1864. About 3,000 soldiers are painted as being engaged in the battle, with an equal number in the background. It was painted to celebrate the Union victory, which was a turning point in the war.
Due to lack of interest and funds, the painting gradually fell into disrepair. In 2011, Mayor Kasim Reed (an African American) set about to save the Cyclorama.
Millions of dollars were raised to move the painting to Atlanta History Center. A new modern build was constructed specially to display the painting in the original style.
The painting then underwent years of painstaking restoration. Scenes and sections of the painting which had been removed or altered in earlier years were carefully restored.
Visitors now see The Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama painting as it was originally intended to be viewed—an experience no one has seen or felt in nearly 100 years.