Workers clean one of 27 cyclorama panels at Gettysburg National Military Park in this 2006 photograph. The park recently received an appropriation to finish the cyclorama restoration and relocation project. (See another restoration photo below.) Background posts: Gettysburg battlefield produces steady supply of news and Gettysburg’s Electric Map blinking in finale season.
“How did the Gettysburg National Military Park – without asking – get $3.8 million from the federal government to finish the Cyclorama painting restoration?” the newspaper story began.
The short answer: The federal government came through with the funds… .
Workers remove glue from the back of one of the Gettysburg cyclorama panels in this 2006 scene. The linen originally placed on the painting was removed, and workers were dealing with the adhesive to prepare for a new backing. A conservator observed that the Cyclorama looked like a ‘big lunar ship’ with the removal of the panels, revealing silver insulation. For a post about another cyclorama, see Sister painting to Gettysburg Cyclorama’s finds new owner.
Here’s the long answer to the question, as found in the rest of the story appearing in the Hanover Evening Sun and York Daily Record:
The House Appropriations Committee gave it to them, according to Dru Neil, spokeswoman for the Gettysburg Foundation, the private, nonprofit organization overseeing and raising funds for the $125-million project.
Neil said staff from the committee visited the park in July and took a tour of the new visitor center.
Neil said the committee called and asked for the tour, during which the staff asked how much the foundation needed to complete the project.
Foundation officials told them $3.8 million, and that amount appears in the more than 1,000-page appropriations bill passed this week.
“They’re really committed to the project,” Neil said.
When the Park Service first proposed the new visitor project, they projected the cost at $40 million, with no contributions from the government.
In the past 10 years, that cost ballooned to $125 million, with the Cyclorama restoration increasing from an estimated $1 million to a final cost of $15.7 million from the federal government.
Frank Silbey, a historical preservationist and critic of Park Superintendent John Latschar, said Thursday he disputes the park’s claim it didn’t ask for any money.
“There is no doubt in my mind that there was an active campaign of solicitation on the part of the Park Service and the foundation,” Silbey said.
But that wasn’t the case, according to Katie Lawhon, spokeswoman for the park.
She said the Cyclorama project has had a high profile in Washington, and has been spoken about in congressional hearings.
“Members of Congress have been very interested in it, very supportive of it,” Lawhon said.
She said congressmen have previously included language that supported the project in appropriations bills.
Preservationists have stitched together and hung the 360-degree painting’s 27 panels in the new visitor center under construction along Hunt Avenue, off Baltimore Pike.
The project includes the restoration of portions of the painting that had been removed to fit it into the previous Cyclorama Center on Taneytown Road.
The foundation will use the recently appropriated $3.8 million to pay for a canopy, diorama, mezzanine and audio presentation to go with the 1884 painting.
This week’s omnibus spending bill also included $200,000 for battlefield-restoration projects including removing non-historic trees from the battlefield and planting orchards, building fences and trimming wood lots to recreate the appearance of the field in 1863.
Lawhon added that the park’s projects are expected to bring an additional $30 million in tourism revenue per year to the local community.