Gettysburg exhibit features Annie Leibovitz photos
October 28, 2012 4:00 AM
This Annie Leibovitz photo of Niagara Falls is one of more than 70 of her photos on display at the National Military Park Museum and Visitors Center in Gettysburg through Jan. 20.
By Tom Barnes Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Gettysburg Foundation is sponsoring special events this fall to display photographs of the historic Gettysburg battlefield as well as the famous "cyclorama'' painting of Northern and Southern troops clashing in the Civil War battle.
The huge cyclorama oil painting, 377 feet long and 42 feet high, used to be housed in a now-empty circular building located on the battlefield, but it now has been moved to the new National Military Park Museum and Visitors Center, which opened three years ago.
Now through Jan. 20 at the center, well-known photographer Annie Leibovitz will have more than 70 photos on display from "Pilgrimage," a project in which she crisscrossed the United States and England as a "personal journey into her cultural inheritance." Two of the photos are from the Gettysburg battlefield. These photos -- which includes a 2001 image of a small card printed with a red heart that Annie Oakley used for target practice during her Wild West shows -- had been on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum earlier this year.
Others were taken at Niagara Falls and Yosemite Valley and others at the homes of important Americans, such as former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Louisa May Alcott and singer Elvis Presley.
Gettysburg Foundation president Joanne Hanley said it's important that Gettysburg is included in the collection because "it has such an important place in American history." The battle of July 1-3, 1863, in which thousands of soldiers on both sides died, is usually considered the turning point of the Civil War.
"Millions of people make their own pilgrimage of sorts here every year," Ms. Hanley said, "to stand on these fields and reflect on the battle of Gettysburg's effect on our nation, an effect we are still feeling today. The 'Pilgrimage' exhibition helps people understand that Gettysburg is very much relevant in our lives today.''
The foundation, working with the National Park Service, Gettysburg College and the Gettysburg-Adams County Convention & Visitors Bureau, has scheduled numerous events over the next few months, leading up to the culmination in late June and early July -- celebrating the 150th anniversary of the battle, the bloodiest on American soil.
The cost to see the Leibovitz photo exhibit is included in the regular Visitors Center admission price of $12.50 for adults and $8.50 for youths age 6 to 12.
Another event, set for Nov. 16 at 4:30 and 6:15 p.m and again Dec. 1 at 5 p.m., is a program on the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting, a depiction of Confederate Gen. George Pickett's famous "charge'' across the battlefield on July 3, 1863, the last day of the battle. The painting, done by a French artist in 1883, had been housed in a circular building across from the Gettysburg cemetery, but that structure is now empty and may be torn down as part of the Park Service's effort to restore the battlefield to the way it looked in 1863. At the new visitors center, there is a high platform, with full lighting so people can view the enormous painting of the Southern charge, which was unsuccessful and led to a Southern retreat on July 4.
Sue Boardman, a historian and licensed guide at the Gettysburg battlefield, will discuss the history of cyclorama paintings in general, as well as specifics about the Gettysburg Cyclorama. Her presentation also will include "a discussion of the massive, multiyear conservation effort of our country's largest painting,'' foundation officials said.
The program lasts two hours and is limited to 50 people. An adult ticket is $20 and a youth ticket (ages 6 to 12) is $10. Tickets can be ordered by phone at 1-877-874-2478 or online at www.gettysburgfoundation.org.
The foundation is a private nonprofit educational group that works together with the National Park Service to preserve the "heritage and lasting significance of Gettysburg.''
Also, on Thursday the National Military Park will change to its winter visiting hours for the battlefield; 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. The visitors center will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The winter hours will last until March 31. From April 1 through Oct. 31, the park is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
More information about the park is available by phone at 1-717-334-1124 or the park website, www.nps.gov/gett.