The Gettysburg Cyclorama is brought back to life

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The Gettysburg Cyclorama is to reopen Sept. 26 after a five-year restoration, and for the first time in more than a century, viewers standing in the middle of the wraparound canvas will see it as its artist originally intended.

The cyclorama, which a 19th-century poster promoted as a "sublime spectacle" presenting "glorious Gettysburg in all the awful splendor of real war," had become less than that over the decades. The U.S. National Park Service and its private partner, the Gettysburg Foundation, have been reconstructing the diorama and other elements of the colossal artwork to bring back the ensemble that made veterans cry when the cyclorama opened in 1884.

Conservators are now dabbing final brushstrokes onto the canvas and setting up the pieces of the diorama. When its $15 million restoration is completed, the cyclorama will be displayed in the Gettysburg National Military Park's new museum and visitor center here, filling a building that evokes a Pennsylvania round barn.

With all illusion-making machinery in place, the effect should be like putting on special glasses at a 3-D movie. The restored oil painting - now larger at 377 feet in circumference and 42 feet tall (about 115 meters and 13 meters) - combined with the recreated diorama, an elevated viewing platform and other features, can once again exert its visual trickery.

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