New Museum and Visitor Center Review
New Gettysburg
Museum, Visitor Center, and Cyclorama Now Open

Read the America's Best History Review of the New Visitor Center (2008) from America's Best History Here!   Review addition of the restored Cyclorama below.
Once inside the front door, a large lobby opens up.  To the right, the Museum bookstore runs along the entire front of the building, with entrance from the lobby, the gallery, and the outside walk where the Tour Buses gather.  This was well designed and is the lightest area of the building.  For those going on a Bus Tour or taking the Trolley Shuttle downtown, this is a separate area from the parking lots, which was a great idea.  The lobby includes an orientation area for the entire park with a short film to describe the options of what to do.  A large ticketing counter to the right will take your money for films and the Cyclorama, licensed battlefield guides, bus tours, and the Eisenhower Tour.  At the far end of the lobby, the information center for the park rangers sit, with the Refreshment Saloon off to the left.  This is a large restaurant with a stone fireplace, plenty of seating inside and out, plus a variety of Civil War era foods.  It does come with steep prices, however, unless a $4 hot dog is low in your book.  I get the feeling the outdoor patio will be a popular place in the summer despite the prices.

The exhibit galleries, film, and Cyclorama dip off to your right midway back the lobby in a separate area from the orientation.  The entire exhibit area was free of charge upon is opening, but now has ben twinned with the film and Cyclorama for the $7.50 adult fee.  The museum is a large space with eleven different areas, covering the entire Civil War, plus Gettysburg, and putting the history in perspective.  The exhibits, which include a film in each area, plus exhibits with copious amounts of information and artifacts, is almost a dizzying collection of history.  If you wanted to read everything inside the exhibit gallery and watch every film, it would take the best part of a day.  Even in a quick walk through, where you watched the films, read a portion of the information, and looked at some of the artifacts, three hours may be the minimum.  Outside the museum exhibit gallery, there is a tribute to the Rosensteel family, who gathered up the artifacts from the field after the battle and built the original Visitor Center, first near Little Round Top, and later what most of us have known as the Visitor Center on Taneytown Road.  They should be commended by all who value the tribute paid to the men who fought here and their contribution to the Gettysburg National Military Park never forgotten.  The lack of a current location to house the Electric Map, which the Rosensteel’s had built inside the old visitor center and had been viewed by 61 million people over the decades of its existence, is one of the few negatives about the new structure.  For those that hope that the Electric Map finds a new home (it is currently scheduled to be put in storage), visit the website, http://savetheelectricmap.com.

The focus of the new museum and film is contextual in scope.  It provides context to the Battle of Gettysburg by providing information and exhibits about the cause of the Civil War, its initial battles, plus the three days of the Gettysburg Conflict, and what came after.  This is a change in some ways to the organization of the old visitor center, which centered more around the Battle of Gettysburg than providing that overall view of the war.  For some, that will be an appropriate way of dealing with a museum at the most visited military park about the Civil War.  It will provide the casual visitor, including many children, with their first true blush into the entire war itself.  For others, it might seem to diminish the Battle of Gettysburg within its own museum walls, although that is likely an unfair criticism, as the entire experience of Gettysburg, including the Cyclorama painting, their walks and tours, plus the 24 square miles of battleground, is Gettysburg dominant.  We would have liked to have seen more artifacts in the exterior exhibit area, which is still free of charge, although we have heard that more artifacts are likely to be included in the pre-exhibit holding area.  At this time, the area is largely unused.

The new Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center is a spectacular addition to the landscape of the Civil War and Gettysburg, and will provide for generations the first taste of what is to come as they visit the sites of the battlefield, the museums along Baltimore and Steinwehr Avenue, and the National Cemetery.  It will inspire those on their first visit to pick up a book and contemplate just how valuable the sacrifice of the 165,000 soldiers who fought the arduous fight on this hallowed ground for three days in July of 1863, whether Confederate or Union.  It will focus the attention on the details of the battle, of the words of Abraham Lincoln during his Gettysburg Address, and what all this means to the history of our nation.  This spot was the High Mark of the Confederacy and Gettysburg, in many ways, the town where the United States of America was saved from becoming split into two forever.  It is hoped that the new museum will spur visitation and contemplation of these facts for decades and centuries to come.

The museum was built through a combination of the Gettysburg Foundation and the park.  The project cost $103 million and will be paid off by the Gettysburg Foundation as it runs the museum for the next twenty years.  It will then be given to the National Park Service free of charge and debt.

What we liked best: The exhibits and films about the Three Days of Battle.  The spacious lobby, book and museum store, and ease of orientation to other things to do outside the visitor center walls.  Plenty of parking, although I get the feeling there still may not be enough for some summer days.  The Trolley Shuttle system to get people to downtown and back.  (Note: Shuttle service was held during the 2008 season to some locations, but full Trolley Service between the Visitor Center, the National Cemetery, and the Museums downtown will start in 2009).

A few criticisms: Lobby and exhibit area are a bit dark.  This is understandable, of course, for keeping artifacts intact, but the lobby could be lighted better.  Exhibits and film provide more context about the war, and less information about the Battle of Gettysburg than we would like.  Probably about 50:50 right now.  Would likely prefer 75% Gettysburg: 25% Civil War.

- Review, America's Best History, April 14, 2008, Update January 2009.

New Gettysburg Museum, Visitor Center, and Cyclorama Now Open

President Abraham Lincoln


Read the America's Best History Review of the New Visitor Center and Restored Cyclorama Here!

Many exciting new things happened in Gettysburg over the last year, and more are coming!

New Visitor Center and Museum
Trolley Service between Visitor Center, National Cemetery, Downtown, and Museums
Restored Wills House

Restored Ziegler's Grove
Restored Spangler's Farm
upcoming 2014

Check out the Vacation Deals at Expedia

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Stop the Casino and Save The Electric Map

Find Out More About Preserving Gettysburg
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Gettysburg Cyclorama

Gettysburg Cyclorama

Cyclorama Review

Grand Opening Celebration and Cyclorama Review, September 26, 2008

Five months after the soft opening of the new Visitor Center and Museum at Gettysburg National Military Park, a celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony was held with a packed house of visitors and dignitaries such as the Secretary of Interior, Governor of Pennsylvania, and actor Stephen Lang of Gettysburg and Gods and Generals fame, but the real star of the show was in the restoration of the Cyclorama painting that most in the crowd would witness during the afternoon.  The restoration of the Philippoteaux painting, 377 feet long and hung in a rotunda now in full fashion as it had in 1884, is best summed up in one word, spectacular.  Do not miss this attraction, now twinned with the visitor center film.  It will mist the eyes of even the most jaded historic attraction veteran, and through sound and light shows the valor and courage of the men who fought on this soil on the three days of 1863 July.  Once you've viewed this painting, it will almost thrust you out to see the battlefield, such sites as Pickett's Charge and more.  A great addtition, once again, to a visit to Gettysburg.  Do not miss it!  (Photo above) Photo of one small section of the restored Gettysburg Cyclorama painting depicting Pickett's Charge.


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Gettysburg National Military Park Entrance Fees

There is no fee to visit Gettysburg National Military Park, the Visitor Center, or a Ranger Guided Walk.  Special fees for additional items, including the new Visitor Center film, A New Birth of Freedom, the Cyclorama, the Museum, the David Wills House, and Bus Tours do apply.

A New Birth of Freedom Film, Cyclorama, and Museum
Adult - $12.50
Senior/Military - $11.50
Youth (6-18) - $8.50

David Wills House
Adult - $6.50
Senior - $5.50
Youth (6-12) - $4.00

Eisenhower Bus Tour
Adult - $7.50
Youth (6-12) - $5.00

Other Bus Tours are available from concessionaires, including a Battlefield tour with guide, in car tours with licensed guides, and the new Trolley Service to downtown sites and museums, now FREE to ride.


Visit Gettysburg on Remembrance Weekend and Dedication Day and see a whole other side of Gettysburg

Fees subject to change without notice.



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