New Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center grand opening this weekend

Nearly two million visitors visitors come every year to explore the Gettysburg National Military Park to learn about both the Civil War and the infamous 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. But two million visitors is a lot, and in order to better accommodate them, new facilities had to be built; in order to expand educational opportunities to visitors and to highlight the historical importance of the site, the Gettysburg Foundation and the National Park Service therefore pooled together $103 million and constructed a new visitor center.

Although it opened in April 2008, the new Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center kicks off its official grand opening celebration tomorrow, Friday September 26. The new visitor center has an extensive collection of artifacts and archives. And like any good visitor center, there are plenty of interactive displays, complete with a voice theater for readings from battle participants — well, people acting to be them.

The grand opening also marks the debut of the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting. A colossal circular oil painting, the Cyclorama is the only one of its kind in North America. The painting has been undergoing a $15 million restoration effort for the last five years; that’s certainly one expensive face lift worth seeing.

The grand opening is set to start at 11 a.m, and even Governor Edward G. Rendell will be making an appearance. You can find a full schedule of events here.