|Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, Gettysburg
National Military Park Supt. Dr. John A. Latschar, Gettysburg Foundation President
Robert C. Wilburn, Gettysburg Foundation Board of Directors Chairman Robert
Kinsley, and Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendel cut the ceremonial ribbon for
the grand opening of the new Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National
Military Park on Sept. 26, 2008. [Photo by Tami Heilemann, NBC]
GETTYSBURG, Pennsylvania -- Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne joined Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and officials of the Gettysburg Foundation and National Park Service on Sept. 26, 2008, for a ceremonial ribbon cutting and grand opening of the new Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park.
“The museum is beautiful, the film is a masterpiece and the restored Cyclorama is stunning,” Secretary Kempthorne told the thousands of spectators about major attractions at the $103 million complex. “John, I admire your leadership and tenacity,” Kempthorne told Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Latschar, who has overseen the operation of the 6,000-acre park since the mid-1990s. “John Latschar is a national treasure,” Kempthorne said.
Also participating in the grand opening, which coinciding with the unveiling
of the restored Cyclorama painting, were Gettysburg Foundation President Robert
C. Wilburn, Gettysburg Foundation
Board of Directors Chairman Robert Kinsley, and Adams County Commissioner Glenn Snyder.
Latschar thanked the 40,000 donors who contributed toward the Preserve Gettysburg
Campaign over the years.
“We can now say for the first time in the 113-year history of Gettysburg National Military Park that our artifacts are preserved for future generations,” Latschar said.
The Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park — located on land that saw no major battle action — preserves and presents the story of the Battle of Gettysburg, in the context of the Civil War, its causes and consequences. It also preserves for future generations the National Park Service’s priceless collection of objects, artifacts and archival materials. The Cyclorama, which depicts Pickett’s Charge – the climax of the Battle of Gettysburg – in three dimensional surrounding space, underwent a five-year, $16 million renovation project.
The opening ceremonies included performances by the Wildcat Regiment Band and a children's choir. Actor Stephen Lang, who portrayed Confederate General George Pickett in the movie, Gettysburg, and Confederate General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson in the movie, Gods and Generals, performed a vignette from his one-man Broadway play, Beyond Glory. Grand opening festivities continued through Sunday at the new visitor center. One of the five known manuscripts of the Gettysburg Address was on display during the weekend, and the restored Cyclorama painting was open to the public.