Gettysburg National Military Park

A Retelling of American History
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

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The new Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center orients visitors to the park, features exhibits that place the Battle of Gettysburg in the larger context of American history, preserves the park’s massive collection of Civil War and Gettysburg artifacts, and showcases the famous, historic Cyclorama painting.

Electrosonic provided design support to AV designer Bob Haroutunian of PPI and supplied and installed the AV equipment for the 139,000-square foot facility, which is operated in partnership with the non-profit Gettysburg Foundation, replacing the former visitor facilities located at Cemetery Ridge.

“The Museum & Visitor Center is a large facility, and Electrosonic played a role in its multiple theaters, touchscreen interactive, map exhibits and the Cyclorama sound and light show,” notes Andrew Kidd, Electrosonic Business Development Manager.

Upon arriving at the Center, visitors can watch a brief orientation presentation that helps them plan their visit. They then proceed to one of two identical 150-seat theaters for a 22-minute feature film, A New Birth of Freedom, narrated by Morgan Freeman, running in an alternating cycle, which sets the scene for the Cyclorama painting experience they are about to see. The famous painting depicts Pickett’s Charge, the turning point in the Battle of Gettysburg and arguably the war. It was painted in 1884 and toured the country, bringing the battle to life for millions of people in the days before movies and electronic media.  

Conservation on the Cyclorama began in 2003 and was unveiled to visitors on September 26, 2008 during the grand opening of the visitor center. The experience includes the painting, a canopy and a three-dimensional diorama that combine to immerse visitors in the climactic battle at Gettysburg. When the sound and light show concludes, visitors walk downstairs to the mezzanine level where a smaller high-resolution photo of the Cyclorama painting will be on view along with two supporting Cyclorama gallery kiosks.

An audio-only system welcomes visitors to the entrance of the Museum Exhibit Galleries containing artifacts and numerous small theaters and touch screen interactive components, which trace the Civil War’s timeline.

Visitors then proceed to the first of two Voices Theaters, which details the campaign leading up to Gettysburg. Three Battle of Gettysburg Theaters, identical in configuration, show different perspectives of the three-day battle. Next is the second Voices Theater, identical in its configuration to the first, which looks at the battle’s “Aftermath.” Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is explored in two computer interactive and a mini walk-in and audio-only theater. The dramatic spoken words of the Address are delivered via Alcorn McBride digital audio machines and JBL ceiling-mounted speakers.

The second graphical map exhibit, “From Gettysburg to Appomattox,” sports the same equipment as the first. It takes visitors along the timeline to the end of the war. An additional touchscreen interactive details the preservation of monuments. Both inside and outside the Center, Electrosonic has furnished equipment for digital signage applications. Two kiosks with sunlight-viewable screens in temperature-controlled cases by Suncutter preview the Center for visitors en route to the building from the parking lots. Additional signage includes a donor database touchscreen and an informational National Park Service screen.