The Minnesota state capitol will reopen to the public Jan. 3, 2017, following the largest preservation effort since it first opened in 1905.
From gleaming marble, vibrant art and new public spaces, to plumbing, mechanical, wiring and safety upgrades, the restored capitol will shine with splendor and be capable of welcoming all Minnesotans for another 100 years.
“I am certain guests to the capitol will be amazed to see the beautifully restored decorative wall panels and ceilings in some areas and especially the fine art,” said Brian Pease, site manager at the Minnesota state capitol. “There are few people alive today who may remember what the original appearance and colors of these magnificent murals and paintings looked like in their original condition. Now, fully restored and conserved, a new generation of viewers can see them as the first generation of visitors did 112 years ago.”
A free grand opening, Aug. 11-13, 2017, will celebrate this historic restoration with activities for all ages and interests. Look for more details from the department of administration.
The capitol will be open Jan. 3 for the legislative session and for free daily tours. Visitors will be able to see:
• Building highlights
• Fully restored Senate and House of Representatives chambers and Supreme Court courtroom
• Restored and repaired exterior marble
• Newly uncovered and restored skylights as well as historically accurate glass front elevators
• Almost 40,000 square feet of new public gathering spaces, including meeting rooms, working and relaxing spaces, and new gallery space
• New Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) information and tour center, as well as classrooms, which will welcome students and visitors of all ages and interests
• Expanded dining in the basement level near the Rathskeller Cafe and a new grab-and-go lunch counter on the second floor
Some finishing work will continue in 2017, resulting in limited or no access to the roof and Quadriga, the west wing third floor and the north wing ground floor. This work is expected to be completed by summer.
Visitors to the capitol will be treated to stunning visuals as they take in newly restored decorative and fine art throughout the building.
Working with cotton swabs and tiny instruments, a team of professional conservators cleaned, in-painted and varnished 57 paintings.
Some of the work needed more serious repair, and nearly 10 pieces had to be completely reattached to newly plastered walls.
In addition, the Quadriga sculpture was removed from its location near the capitol’s dome, cleaned, repaired and regilded. Extensive work was also done to return decorative stencil work to its original 1905 patterns and colors.
Not all artwork will be in place when the capitol reopens. Rotating governors’ portraits and the governor’s reception room Civil War paintings will be reinstalled in early 2017. “Father Hennepin at the Falls of St. Anthony” and “The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux,” previously displayed in the governor’s reception room, will be placed elsewhere in the Capitol in time for the grand opening celebration. The paintings “Attack on New Ulm” and “The Eighth Minnesota Infantry in the Battle of Ta-Ha-Kouty” will not return to display at the capitol.
Discussions about the future exhibition of those pieces are ongoing.
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society