Milwaukee Panorama Artists with Panorama, (Missionary Ridge cyclorama) 1886. WHI 26071
H.H. Bennett and Civil War Cycloramas
Before motion pictures and television, cycloramas entertained audiences by depicting historic events such as great battles, religious themes, or scenes from great works of literature in large, round buildings.
A unique set of Henry Hamilton Bennett (H.H. Bennett) photographs recorded two Civil War cycloramas created in the 1880s. They feature the Battle of Gettysburg (specifically Pickett's Charge) and the Battle of Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The cyclorama was a primitive precursor to today's IMAX, giving the feeling of being in the middle of a scene. It was a panoramic display of massive oil-on-canvas paintings mounted on the inside walls of a large, round building built especially for it. A viewing platform was located in the center. The colossal paintings were given a more realistic quality by placing the actual objects, landscaping, and life-size figures in front of them. This was a popular form of entertainment at the turn of the 20th century.
The Battle of Gettysburg cyclorama is currently preserved at the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. It is one of only a few surviving cycloramas nationwide. Bennett's Gettysburg cyclorama gallery images, when viewed left to right and top to bottom, are in the order as one would have viewed the cyclorama.
The Battle of Missionary Ridge cyclorama no longer exists, but you can view Bennett's Missionary Ridge Cyclorama gallery of images in the same manner.
During a career that lasted from 1865 to 1908, H.H. Bennett photographed the rugged landscape of Wisconsin Dells and became one of the premier photographers of the era. Bennett loved the natural landscape of the river and spent his life conveying its beauty and many moods to the public.
The H.H. Bennett Collection also includes Wisconsin urban and rural landscapes, geological formations, riverboats and portraits of Native Americans from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
H.H. Bennett's Cycloramas
More About H.H. Bennett