In our last post, Celia wrote about spending time in Richmond, Virginia and Wilmington, North Carolina seeing friends, doctors, and her mom. On our way to Tampa, Florida for Christmas, we stopped in Clinton, South Carolina to get our eyes checked (Thanks Tom and Ginger!) and visited family in Decatur, Georgia. We were moving quickly and regret that we could not visit more friends and family along the way.
We did have the opportunity to visit my cousins in Georgia. We had not seen them for more than two year. While with them, we took in a few attractions that turned out to be a lot of fun. One of them brought back memories from my childhood growing up in the Atlanta area. It is called the Cyclorama and it has been restored and now has a new home.
The Atlanta Cyclorama is only one of two that exist in the United States, the other being the Battle of Gettysburg. Newly housed in the Atlanta History Center, the Battle of Atlanta cyclorama was for years in a facility at Grant Park. That location is the one that I remember from my childhood.
The hand-painted Cyclorama depicts the 1864 battle in extensive detail. The oil painting itself is 49 feet tall and longer that the playing field for tomorrow’s Super Bowl! It took 17 German painters over five months to complete.
The Battle of Atlanta cyclorama debuted in Minneapolis in 1886 and portrayed the Northern victory. When it was relocated to Atlanta in 1892, however, it was modified to depict a fake Confederate victory so as to be acceptable to Southern audiences. It has now been restored, as close as possible, to its original form.
The History Center gives details about the monumental undertaking of restoring and transporting the oil painting from Grant Park to its current location. That alone is worth the price of admission. This is a wonderful facility that has so much to offer the visitor. The cyclorama is the highlight but there is so much to see and to do there too.
South of Atlanta in the town of Macon, Georgia is the Harriet Tubman Museum. According to its website it “is the largest museum in the nation dedicated to educating people about the Art, History and Culture of African Americans.” To my surprise the museum did not focus very much on Harriet Tubman herself nor the underground railroad even though it was her efforts to help fleeing slaves that made her famous.
The museum, when we visited, had exhibits of prominent African Americans, including those from the Macon area, such as famous musicians like Little Richard, various inventions plus their inventors, and an eclectic variety of artwork.
The museum contains a beautiful rotunda that hosts many public events for the Macon, Georgia area.
The Harriet Tubman Museum is worth seeing if you anywhere near Macon, Georgia.
Our biggest surprise of our Georgia visit was the Booth Western Art Museum located in the small North Georgia town of Cartersville. This small Georgia town is the site of one of the most fascinating museums that we have seen. The collection is expansive, expertly presented, and seemingly out of place on the East Coast.
Before you enter the museum, you will be greeted by numerous bronzes displayed on the grounds. As you read the plaques accompanying the works, you will notice that almost all of the sculptors are still living. It turns out that this is an emphasis for the entire museum, as they prefer to collect art from contemporary artists. There is plenty of room for the artwork as the Booth Museum describes itself as, “The world’s largest permanent exhibition space for Western art…” The facility built with Bulgarian limestone is over 120,000 square feet in size.
We were fortunate enough to arrive in time for one of the guided tours. Our docent was excellent and gave us so many insights that we would have missed on a self-guided tour.
For instance, there is a sitting area with random drawings on the walls. These works are by visiting artists to the museum who are given only a few minutes to add some art to the room. Very impressive.
Not only are there the expected bronzes and oil paintings, but there is even a collection of paper sculptures. Incredible detail that must be added one small piece at a time.
Also surprising is a collection of Presidential portraits and letters in addition to the 12 permanent galleries. There is an abundance of sculptures, photographs, American Indian artifacts, American Civil War history, and of course hundreds of paintings. We quickly ran out of time and missed so much that there is to see. If you plan to visit, be sure to allow as much time as possible.
After our wonderful Georgia visit (Thanks Linda and Randy!), we continued on to Tampa, Florida to spend Christmas with our daughter and son-in-law. The weather was great and we were able to go out on the boat, to do some hiking in local parks, and to visit with family. These are the best kind of visits.
Next, we fly back to Arizona, restock the Bighorn, and head for the desert.