Moving Panorama History & Related Art Forms
Find out about the history of this forgotten art form. In the 19th Century, they were called moving panoramas as well as many other names. This is a collection of moving panoramas and related hand-cranked
scrolls, big and small, from all over the world. Have fun exploring!
MOVING PANORAMAS: SMALL, MEDIUM AND ENORMOUS!
This late 19th/early 20th century moving panorama is about 2 inches high. From the collection of Erkki Huhtamo, photo by Sue Truman.
In the 19th Century, moving panoramas ranged in size from very small to enormous!
SMALL: The very small ones, with scrolls a few inches high, might have been created as a child's toy such as an Ombro Cinema. Or, small moving panoramas were given as souvenirs at large moving panorama performances. Look at the collection of
Moving Panorama Showman
Henry "Box" Brown
Learn about three moving panorama showman: John Banvard, Henry "Box" Brown and "Dr. L.E. Emerson.
Historian Ralph Hyde (1939 - 2015) created a comprehensive (over 500 pages) list of moving panorama showman and women from around the world The Biographical
Dictionary of English Panoramists. It was still a work in progress when Ralph died in June of 2015. His estate donated the manuscript to the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum in London. You can link to the PDF here.
Arctic Moving Panoramas
Image courtesy of Russell Potter
Arctic expeditions were big news and moving panoramas
were the news reels of the day. The enormous paintings traveled from town to town. Moving panorama showman told stories of ships "nipped" in the ice and men bravely going where no white man had gone before. Artifacts from the expeditions were brought back
and put on display at the shows. To add even more authenticity, some shows had a member of the expedition appear to tell stories first hand. The public was captivated.
Train Moving Panoramas
This photographer was strapped to the front of a train to make a film for the "Phantom Ride."
This is an interesting collection of examples of "train moving panoramas". Starting with an early 20th century child's moving panorama, described by the late, great historian
Ralph Hyde. Also two examples of moving panoramas with the same theme, the Trans Siberian Railroad, which were performed at the 1900 Paris Exposition. This evolves into a fairground attraction ride called Hale's Tours and Scenes of the World.
This kind of "ride" was featured in the Hollywood movie "Letter from an Unknown Women." Click here!
Moving Panoramas by River, Sea and Ocean!
Painted on 1848, the Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage Round the World is the longest surviving mover panorama painting at 1,275 feet.
Traveling by water was a popular moving panorama theme. The audience could sit back and imagine they were traveling along the
Mississippi or the Mediterranean. They may "travel" to exotic lands such as the Arctic! Click here!
Early "How To" Children's Articles
I purchased this 1930s book on Amazon. I wasn't able to read it because it came with some mold "issues" and gave me a big allergy attack. It had to go back in the plastic bag!
As a crankie artist, I really love reading old articles. Typical for this time period, the information is written for boys, glad we are evolving.
How to Make a Moving Panorama, 1910 from the Book of Knowledge
A Panorama, 1930, excerpts from The Boy Showman and
Moving Picture Toy for Children, from the Boy Mechanic, 1923
Books about Moving Panoramas
See what I have in my library. Thank you to independent researcher Suzanne Wray for helping me with this bibliography.
The International Panorama Council
The International Panorama Council is a group committed to supporting the heritage and conservation of 19th and early 20th century panoramas (both stationay and moving
panoramas). This organization also supports awareness of current art forms (such as crankies)!
Visit their website panoramcouncil.org.
It provides a searchable database of historic panoramas plus you can find out what's happening in the international community.
Follow them on Facebook
The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum
The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum has a fantastic collections of toy moving panoramas, broadsides and program keys. Go to their search tool and type in "moving panorama" or "myreorama." Enjoy!
This page was created in 2012, updated 2019. Sue Truman❤