Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation
In Pennsylvania, the Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation includes the battlefield, the Cyclorama experience and the Civil War Museum. The National Park is over 6,000 acres and includes more than 1,400 sculptures, statues, tablets and markers. It is free and open to the public during daylight hours. For a fee, the Foundation offers guided tours which take 2.5 hours to complete or a CD guide for those who want to sightsee at their own pace. Free Park Service maps are available.
The battlefield is the place where 165,000 fought on both sides of the Civil War. It was a hard-won battle for the Union. It is also famous as the place where Lincoln delivered his most important speech of the war, the Gettysburg Address.
Over 1.5 million people experience the battlefield each year. Most visitors begin their trip at the Visitor Center, home to the Civil War museum and the Cyclorama. The Cyclorama is an experience of sight and sound. Narration guides viewers as they witness the war through sound effects and an original diorama of the battle. In 1884, artists completed a 377-foot, three-panel circular painting of the Gettysburg battle. This artwork eventually languished in a warehouse but was restored forty years ago. A 2003 restoration brought the oil painting much closer to its original beauty. The artwork accurately reveals aspects of the battle as well as the human cost of the war. The accompanying film, A New Birth of Freedom, is narrated by Morgan Freeman.
The Museum has twelve exhibit rooms. Artifacts, special displays, hands-on activities and short films combine to tell the story of the battle, the war and the times. The Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation also offers a tour of the retirement home of President Eisenhower. Combination tickets are available at the Foundation’s website.