What is Cyclorama? Plus, Photojournalist Greg Newington & Carolyn Cook

Aug 2, 2014

This year is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta. The Cyclorama, the 128-year-old painting of the Civil War battle, is getting a new home.

In July, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed and officials from the Atlanta History Center announced that the painting would move from its longtime home in Atlanta’s Grant Park to the History Center in Buckhead, where it will become the centerpiece of a multi-million dollar expansion and renovation.

“I can’t think of a better custodian of this historical work than the Atlanta History Center,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in a news conference announcing the new home of the Cyclorama.

Dr. Gordon Jones is a Civil War historian and the Senior Military Curator of the Atlanta History Center.

“The Cyclorama is one of America’s great treasures,” said Jones. “It is one of only two surviving Cycloramas mounted and in place in the United States, one of only three in North America, one of only about fifteen or twenty in the world, and it’s a unique piece of history that just reflects on everything we are as Atlantans and as Americans.”

So, what exactly is a Cyclorama?

The term “cyclorama” was a termed coined by the United States to refer to a specific type a panorama painting-- one that is 360 degrees and designed to fit into a building 400 feet in circumference and fifty feet high.

The paintings, says Jones, had to be more or less the same size so they would be interchangeable.

“It absolutely was and it was kind of a flash in the pan in the 1880’s. This was the new form of visual entertainment,” said Jones. “This was the Imax Theatre of its time in the 1880’s. And then it died out as quickly as it started with the advent of movies.”

There are two mounted Cycloramas in the United States: one at Gettysburg and one in Atlanta. There is also one in Canada and 15 to 20 historical cycloramas in Europe.


Dr. Gordon Jones - Civil War Historian, Senior Military Curator of the Atlanta History Center.


Photojournalist Greg Newington is one of the most celebrated photographers in his home of Australia. Now he lives in the Serenbe community in South Fulton County.

Newington had a 38-year career as a photojournalist for a major newspaper across Australia and the Middle East.

He was the photo editor of Australia’s national daily, The Australian, and worked extensively as a photographer in some of the world’s most dangerous hotspots, covering Somalia and Bosnia. Newington also worked as a pool photographer to shoot Nelson Mandela.

As an Australian transplant to Georgia, he had a unique opportunity to see the state for an assignment.

Four years ago, he was hired by the County Commissioners of Georgia to photograph all 159 county courthouses in the state.

Newington drove out to all of Georgia’s counties, sometimes multiple times. That experience, he says, taught him about the beauty of the state.

“One of the the things I found which was so consistent throughout the whole journey was the famous hospitality that Southerners are renowned for,” said Newington. “I learned a lot about backroads and I learned a lot about little towns that were so extraordinarily hidden away and yet, they were the epicenter of the area. The courthouses and the sense of community and pride in these little towns was a constant.”

View more of Newington's work here.

Guests: Greg Newington, photographer.


Carolyn Cook is one of Atlanta’s best known actresses. She founded the French language theatre, Theatre Du Rev, is a member of the Georgia Shakespeare ensemble, and works regularly at theatres across metro-Atlanta. She also has an aging mother who is sliding into dementia. All of these threads of Carolyn Cook’s life find their way into her blog, Lifelong Metamorphoses. Carolyn grew up in Dalton, in the North Georgia mountains. She now lives in metro Atlanta, not far from the assisted living home where her mother June Sparks lives today. Carolyn’s experiences with her mother make up some of the most touching stories on her blog. Carolyn’s entries about her mom are sometimes very sad, but sometimes, very funny. “She loved music, when she’d clean the house, she’d put on the Brandenburg concertos and she’d go around with her little feather duster and clean the house, which was not typical in Dalton,” said Cook. “So I was raised with classical music around me.” Guests Carolyn Cook, actress and blogger at Lifelong Metamorphoses