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Popular in Melbourne from 1889 to 1906, Cycloramas were shown in two circular buildings: one in Fitzroy on Victoria Parade (now St Vincent's Hospital), the other in Little Collins Street (now Georges Apartments). Each displayed a 360-degree oil painting, measuring 122 x 15 m. The picture, lit from above, was viewed from a central platform. Real objects, such as trees or bushes, were merged into the painted picture to heighten the illusion. Three pictures (Battle of Waterloo; Battle of Gettysburg and Jerusalem) were shown at Fitzroy between 1889 and 1906. Also displayed, from 1891, was the locally painted Eureka Stockade. The Siege of Paris was shown in Little Collins Street from 1891 to 1896. The canvases were promoted by Americans Gross & Reed and the Melbourne Cyclorama Co. The depression of the 1890s and the arrival of motion pictures contributed to the demise of the genre. The Fitzroy building was later used as a circus, boxing ring and cinema, before demolition in 1928. A smaller cyclorama (36 x 4 m), Early Melbourne in 1842, painted by local scenic artist John Hennings, was exhibited at the Royal Exhibition Building from 1892 to c. 1920. This painting survives in the La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.

Mimi Colligan

Colligan, Mimi, Canvas documentaries: Panoramic entertainments in nineteenth-century Australia and New Zealand, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2002. Details

See also

Cyclorama Lane