Three days of special events are being planned to celebrate the grand opening of the new Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center, Museum and Cyclorama, scheduled for Sept. 26-28. The $105 million complex opened to the public in April, but a grand opening celebration was postponed until late September to coincide with the conclusion of the Cyclorama painting restoration.“It is going to be quite a weekend,” said Gettysburg Foundation spokeswoman Dru Anne Neil.
The weekend features a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the debut of the restored Cyclorama artwork, and an 1863 cocktail party." We’re trying to finalize everything, but those are definitely the highlights,” Neil said.U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne is scheduled to attend the ribbon-cutting, as well as high-ranking members of the Gettysburg Foundation Board of Directors. Also, Gov. Edward G. Rendell has reportedly committed to appear at the event, although his office did not return an inquiry seeking confirmation. The ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Friday, Sept. 26 at 11 a.m.
“It’s a pretty big deal. We never had anything when we opened the doors in April — we just opened,” said Neil. “We didn’t have any of those people here. We had community previews and an open house, but we didn’t have any formalized celebration. We wanted to get the building open then, but this is our official grand-opening event.”The non-profit Gettysburg Foundation and the park united several years ago to raise funds to pay for the massive 139,000 square-foot complex — the partnership is expected to continue for at least the next 20 years, as the Gettysburg Foundation is operating the facility, located along the 1100 block of the Baltimore Pike, near Gettysburg.
Planning for the project commenced in the mid-1990s, when GNMP leaders began arguing that the old complex along Taneytown Road wasn’t large enough to properly house the park’s collection of one million Civil War artifacts. The National Park Service intends to raze the outdated facilities, and restore that area — located within Ziegler’s Grove — to its 1863 battlefield appearance.“The Foundation’s commitment throughout the whole process is beyond reproach,” GNMP Supt. Dr. John A. Latschar said in an interview about the park’s arrangement with the agency. “At least once a month, for the last two years, we’ve come to a unified decision where we really want to do something because it’ll result in better visitor service or a better exhibit...and almost every single time, the Foundation has said that it will raise the extra money."
A party celebrating the facility’s grand-opening is scheduled for the evening of Saturday, Sept. 27. The event is dubbed “Party Like It’s 1863 Gala Celebration,” and features cocktails, period entertainment and dancing. Tickets are available for $100 per person — proceeds benefit the Gettysburg Foundation and the firm’s ongoing battlefield rehab projects. The public is invited to attend, but registration is required.For more information about the grand-opening celebration, call the Gettysburg Foundation at 717-338-1243, or log onto: www.gettysburgfoundation.org/visit/gettysburggrandopening.htm.
Text Source: Gettysburg Times newspaper
Pictures Source: York Town Square wwwsite