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Arts Return to Oakland Cemetery in May with Illumine

By Angie Wynne

Over the course of four spring evenings from May 9 to May 12, visitors will be able to see Oakland Cemetery in a new light. Illumine 2019 is a creatively and artfully lighted self-guided walking tour that promises to be ethereal, unique, and memorable.

The overriding theme of the event is to literally shine a light on many of the untold stories of Atlanta’s history as they play out within the cemetery’s walls, with a focus on how the bones of more than a thousand African-Americans were relocated from Slave Square, the 1,500 unmarked graves in the North Public Grounds, and the histories of the cemetery’s Original Six Acres and the Beaumont Allen Greenhouse.

Headstones, mausoleums, flowers, trees, and buildings will be innovatively lit with lightboxes, lanterns, projections, sound, and balloons to showcase Oakland’s exquisite spring gardens along with the Historic Oakland Foundation’s (HOF) restoration efforts.

“We’re excited to build upon the successes and lessons learned from Illumine 2016 and last year’s award-winning Golden Hour exhibition to bring Oakland Cemetery to life with creative and artistic lighting this spring,” said Richard Harker, Director of Programming at HOF.

Illumine 2019 is a creative collaborative project of HOF staff, friends, and volunteers, led by the event’s Creative Director, Cooper Sanchez. “It is a thrill for visitors to be in this great garden cemetery at night and a pleasure for us to be able to provide a unique experience for our visitors to see the history and beauty of this place in new and original ways,” said Sanchez, who is also an artist and gardener at Oakland Cemetery and is responsible for a number of beautiful artistic experiences at Oakland in the last decade. “I am so excited for the return of Illumine and am sure that it will be one of the most unique experiences in Atlanta this spring.”Tickets went on sale for HOF members on February 18 and to the public on March 4. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the gate for adults (plus taxes and fees); $15/$20 for seniors, students, and children over 3; and free for children 3 and under. Entrance to Oakland Cemetery for Illumine 2019 begins at 7:00pm. The last entrance is at 9:30pm on Thursday, May 9 and Sunday, May 12, and at 10:30pm on Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11. Visit for more information.

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