Behalt is a pictorial history of the Anabaptists from the time of European beginnings through their existence in America. Not only is it educational, it has been dubbed “the most exciting cyclorama in America”.
Having only visited one cyclorama in America (the other–of the Battle of Raclawice in Poland being non-American and of a decidedly non-pacifist nature) I can’t say if the tagline is true or not, but on a visit a few years back I did feel at least a twinge of something which could be called excitement or maybe even exhilaration while observing the dramatic images of the painting and listening to the narration of the guide.
Located in the center of the Holmes County settlement, Behalt attracts tourist visitors from far and wide. Amish, often keen on knowing their own history, show interest as well.
The father of an Amish entrepreneur friend works as a guide at the center one day a week, and on my visit a few years back a young Amishman with wife and children were among those in attendance for the half-hour tour and instructional film. Segments of Behalt are also reproduced on the inside covers of the most recent Holmes County Amish directory.
However, I actually found the most interesting bit to be not the painting itself but what was located in the center of the room which contains it.
Pioneer Amishman ‘White’ Jonas Stutzman was considered peculiar among Amish, for a number of reasons. One was the unusual chair he created to greet the coming of Christ, which he believed to be imminent. On my visit the caretakers kindly gave me access to the chair, and if you like, you can read more about ‘White’ Jonas Stutzman and his famous chair, from a blog entry from that time.
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