The Jerusalem Cyclorama is a panoramic work by the American painters Oliver Dennett Grover and Charles Abel Corwin. It is 14 meters high and has a circumference of 110 meters. It is located in a rotunda built near the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. It was installed there in 1895.
The work describes what the city of Jerusalem might have looked like at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion.
However, with the decleralization movement in Quebec, a lack of interest in the site followed. In 2018, the Blouin family who owned it closed the restaurant because it was no longer profitable and needed to be renovated. Attempts to sell it were unsuccessful. The following year, the screen and rotunda were listed as heritage sites by the Quebec government.
Annie Lévesque lives in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. She is part of the team of volunteers looking for a way to reopen the site to the public.
“It’s the only cyclorama that exists in Canada, so I really hope that government authorities recognize the importance of protecting and maintaining a site like this,” she emphasizes.
Pierre Blouin, whose family bought the property in 1949, hopes to sell it. Last summer he wrote a long article for Reader’s Digest in hopes of attracting a potential buyer.
Ms. Lévesque, an art gallery owner, was hired by the Blouin family because she specialized in cultural development. Reopening the Rotunda could attract potential buyers, she said. This could also help the family find a real estate agent.
“It’s difficult to sell a business when it’s closed,” she recalls.
Jérémie Germain came into the group by chance. When he visited Ms. Lévesque’s art gallery in 2021, he noticed the rotunda through a window but had no idea what it was.
“It’s a great work of art,” he says of the circular drama. I’m surprised that she’s in the dark, so to speak.
The group consists of a few dozen members from all walks of life: professionals, lawyers, historians, etc. All enthusiasts who want the public to have access to the cyclorama again.
The work is still in good condition. In recent years, historians and experts. The gift shop reopened for Easter 2022 to raise money for necessary repairs. No timetable has been set for a possible reopening, admits Ms. Lévesque.
According to the Quebec Cultural Heritage Directory, the cyclorama was painted somewhere in the United States in 1887 or 1888. It was exhibited in Montreal until 1895, when it was sold to lawyer Ubald Plourde, who had it transported near the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. The inspiration for the work was a canvas painted in Munich in 1886 by Bruno Piglhein, which served as a template for more than a dozen other panoramic paintings.
In March 2022, the Ministry of Culture obtained a court order to carry out emergency work on the roof. These were completed in February.
“The ministry intervened in an extraordinary manner to facilitate urgent rooftop consolidation work that needed to be undertaken to ensure the integrity of the classified property,” the ministry wrote in an email to The Canadian Press. The state has registered a mortgage, but the owner must pay it back.
Mr Germain stressed that the Blouin family believed the place needed to be adapted to the 21st century. To make the work more interactive, 3D technology and virtual reality could be added.
“The painting will always be the main attraction, but we want to enrich the experience in ways that the artists could not have imagined decades ago,” he adds. Everything we do today and in the future is about reopening the place and sharing it with the world.”
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