News

DYER LIBRARY/SACO MUSEUM RECEIVES “GREAT WORKS” GRANT FROM MAINE ARTS COMMISSION

The Dyer Library and Saco Museum (DLSM) is the recipient of a $20,000 grant from the Maine Arts Commission as part of their “Great Works” program, designed to support projects “of the highest artistic quality” that will reach a broad public audience and have a positive regional or statewide impact. At the DLSM, this grant will support an ongoing project to preserve the Moving Panorama of Pilgrim’s Progress—a rare and remarkable 8 x 850-foot painting on canvas created in 1851—and to make it accessible to worldwide audiences in new and innovative ways.

“We are so grateful for the support and endorsement of the Maine Arts Commission,” said Leslie Rounds, Executive Director of the DLSM. “This award brings us close to the completion of our goals for funding the panorama project and sharing this amazing object with the world.”

About the Moving Panorama of Pilgrim’s Progress
The Moving Panorama of Pilgrim’s Progress, also known as Bunyan’s Tableau, is an extraordinary 8 x 850-foot long painting created in 1851 and presented to audiences nationwide throughout the second half of the 19th century. It is one of less than 15 moving panoramas to survive worldwide. Precursors to the modern motion picture, moving panoramas consisted of immense lengths of canvas painted to depict popular stories, events, and locations of the time. Panoramas were presented by scrolling the massive canvas paintings across a stage from one gigantic spool to another, accompanied by a lecturer and music. The DLSM’s panorama was conceived, and designs were contributed, by members of the National Academy of Design in New York, including Frederic Edwin Church, Jasper Cropsey, and Daniel Huntington, among others. Its fine art underpinnings and its subject matter—John Bunyan’s 1678 religious allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress—made it one of the most important and popular panoramas of its time.

About the Panorama Project
This project, which will culminate in the summer of 2012, began with a challenge grant from Save America’s Treasures, which has allowed the entire panorama to be treated (at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, or WACC, in Massachusetts) so that it is stable and exhibitable. Given that it is impossible to restore the panorama to the point where it may be presented in motion, as it was originally intended to be seen, the continuing project will also include the creation of a full-scale replica of the panorama: digital images printed on fabric and rolled onto two spools that can be “performed using a mechanism based on historical models. No one alive today has ever seen a historic panorama performed in motion; this project will furnish that absolutely unique opportunity. The replica will be printed by the Portland-based firm of Portland Color using high-resolution post-conservation photography from WACC’s photo lab; the same photography will also be used by Back Lot Films of Fremont, New Hampshire to create a web-based interactive video, including narration and a musical soundtrack, that can be performed “on-demand” by panorama enthusiasts worldwide. The culmination of the panorama project will include a fully illustrated publication with contributions by distinguished authors, a major exhibition scheduled for the summer of 2012, a distinguished lecture series, and an array of public programs for all ages. To support or learn more about the panorama project, please contact Museum Director Jessica Skwire Routhier at (207) 283-3861, ext. 114, or museum@sacomuseum.org.

About the Maine Arts Commission
The Maine Arts Commission is an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. MAC encourages and stimulates public interest and participation in the cultural heritage and cultural programs of our state; expands the state's cultural resources; and encourages and assists freedom of artistic expression for the well being of the arts, to meet the needs and aspirations of persons in all parts of the state. For more information about MAC, visit www.mainearts.com.

The preservation and interpretation of the Moving Panorama of Pilgrim’s Progress is made possible by grants from Save America’s Treasures through a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Park Service, Department of the Interior; the Wyeth Foundation for American Art; the Maine Arts Commission; the Maine Humanities Council; Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution; and the Gateway Foundation.