Monday, June 22, 2009

Gettysburg Revisited

Judy, Karen, Allison and I made the short trip up to Gettysburg for the third? fourth? time. Karen and Allison hadn't seen the new visitor center and none of us had seen the newly restored and opened Cyclorama. It was a match made in heaven.

The new visitor center is impressive. I say that even though we had to park in the third parking lot which is the furthest away from the center. On this trip we bought the tickets to access all the attractions at the visitor center. (Film, Cyclorama, Museum) First, we toured the museum. Compared to all the artifacts that you used to be able to see in the old visitor center; the museum seems much emptier. They make good use of new multimedia techniques to present information about the battle though. Next, we watched the movie, "A New Birth of Freedom" which was very good. Morgan Freeman narrates and his voice resonates beautifully. The Cyclorama--a 360 degree painting of a part of the battle, is marvelous. It is set up with real items in the foreground which blend imperceptibly into the painting so that you are not sure where the real ends and the painting begins. They do a light show behind the painting which highlights various parts of the painting to go along with a narrative about the battle.

Unfortunately, the majority of the scene is in one section of the painting and if you are in the wrong spot, you are doomed. You don't really see any of the special effects. After the the show they allowed us about five minutes to look at the painting with the lights up full and then they ran us out so that the next group could come in to watch the program. I was pretty peeved because I literally did not see half of the painting because of the number of people crowded up there. Given that you pay ten bucks to see the 22 minute film, see the cyclorama, and go through the museum, we left feeling a bit cheated. On the whole, I do recommend the experience but I recommend that when you go, stand in a spot opposite where the park assistants stand in order to see the best view of the show.

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