Minnesota State Capitol Restoration

Contact: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

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Introduction

The Minnesota State Capitol was designed by influential architect Cass Gilbert and completed in 1905. It features the second largest self-supporting marble dome in the world as well as stunning decorative and fine art pieces. Free guided tours are available year-round. The Capitol is north of downtown St. Paul at 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., accessible from I-94 and I-35E.

Grand Opening 2017

Minnesota Celebrates $310 Million Restoration of State Capitol

For immediate release

Release dated: 
July 11, 2017
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Minnesota Celebrates $310 Million Restoration of State Capitol

MNHS offers tours, new exhibits and more during Grand Opening weekend August 11-13

The weekend of Aug. 11-13, 2017, the Minnesota Historical Society and Minnesota Department of Administration will celebrate the completion of four years and $310 million of restoration at the Minnesota State Capitol. All are invited to a range of events all weekend long exploring stories of the Capitol and people of Minnesota.

Visitors can enjoy free tours of the Capitol led by MNHS interpreters and experience restored murals, gleaming new marble replacing 100 years of deterioration, hidden gems uncovered during construction and more throughout the weekend. Forty-five-minute tours begin every half hour Friday 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

On the Capitol’s third floor, MNHS will unveil several new spaces during the Grand Opening. Formerly displayed in the Governor’s Reception Room, see the paintings “Father Hennepin Discovering the Falls of St. Anthony” and “The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux” in the new exhibit “Reconciling History: Views on Two Minnesota Paintings.” The exhibit offers more robust interpretation, historical context and a range of current perspectives on the artwork, including those of American Indians.

Visitors can also discover two panel exhibits on the third floor, curated in partnership with the Cass Gilbert Society, on the Capitol’s construction, history and restoration. Learn about Minnesota’s three different state Capitol buildings, see Cass Gilbert’s architectural plans and newly discovered construction photos from 1896-1905, and discover some of the amazing work that went into the recent restoration.

Also be sure to explore newly restored Civil War artwork in the Governor’s Reception Room and portraits of Minnesota’s governors returned to display with additional interpretation in the Capitol.

History and architecture buffs can delve deeper into the Capitol’s story and recent efforts to restore the building to its former glory in the new MNHS Press book “Our Minnesota State Capitol” by Denis Gardner, Minnesota’s National Register Historian, with a foreword by Gov. Mark Dayton (August 2017).

About the Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history. Visit us at www.mnhs.org.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.

3rd Floor Art Exhibit

“Reconciling History: Views on Two Minnesota Paintings,” Opening Aug. 11, 2017

For immediate release

Release dated: 
August 2, 2017
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

“Reconciling History: Views on Two Minnesota Paintings,” Opening Aug. 11, 2017

(UPDATED Aug. 2, 2017) Two paintings that once hung in the Governor’s Reception Room, “Father Hennepin Discovering the Falls of St. Anthony” and “The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux,” are moving to newly created exhibit space on the third floor of the renovated Capitol where expanded interpretation can be provided.

The new exhibit “Reconciling History: Views on Two Minnesota Paintings,” opening Aug. 11, 2017, focuses on multiple perspectives on the paintings and on their history, meaning and context within the Capitol.

Visitors will be able to see the paintings up close and explore interpretive panels that feature biographical information about the artists, a description of each artwork, and multiple current perspectives on the pieces. The exhibit was developed by conducting video interviews with historians, Western art experts, Ojibwe and Dakota community members and settler descendants. Transcribed excerpts from the interviews will be featured in the exhibit, and edited video interviews will be accessible online at www.mnhs.org/capitol by the Grand Opening weekend.

Media can preview the videos here:

The renovation of the Minnesota State Capitol provided an opportunity to address issues relating to the Capitol’s extensive artwork and conservation—specifically, its historical significance and how it reflects who we are as Minnesotans. Following public input, decisions were made in December 2016 to relocate these two paintings from the Governor’s Reception Room to another location in the Capitol where they could be better interpreted.

Another painting “Attack on New Ulm” was removed from display. This fall, visitors can see "Attack on New Ulm: One Painting, Many Perspectives" on exhibit at the James J. Hill House art gallery, Sept. 16, 2017-Jan. 18, 2018. The painting will be supported by additional historical context and multiple interpretations, and visitors will be asked to share their own thoughts about its meaning.

The painting “The 8th Minnesota Infantry (Mounted) in the Battle of Ta-Ha-Kouty” was also removed from the Capitol. It is not currently on exhibit.

About the Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history. Visit us at www.mnhs.org.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.

How to Visit

Quick Facts on the Minnesota State Capitol

For immediate release

Release dated: 
December 13, 2016
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Quick Facts on the Minnesota State Capitol

Guided Tours
Join MNHS staff for free 45-minute guided tours, offered on the hour, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Sunday, 1-3 p.m. Tours will provide an overview of Capitol history, art, architecture and state government, and will highlight the massive restoration effort, the largest since the building’s opening in 1905.

Visitors can come to the first floor information center desk to attend a tour. Reserve group tours by calling 651-259-3003.

Website
www.mnhs.org/capitol

Admission
Admission to the Capitol is free. Tours are free with a $5 suggested donation.

How To Visit
Address: 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd St. Paul, MN 55155, accessible from I-94 and 35E

Parking: Public parking is available throughout the Capitol Complex, including in Lot Q and the Centennial Parking Ramp. Metered parking is available nearby on John Ireland Blvd and Cedar St. Additional parking information.

Dining: The Rathskeller Cafe and a new grab-and-go lunch counter are available during the legislative session.

Architecture and Restoration History

Architecture and Restoration History at the State Capitol

For immediate release

Release dated: 
December 8, 2016
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
 

Architecture and Restoration History at the State Capitol

The current Minnesota State Capitol building has been the center of the state's government since 1905. To construct a building of this scale—with its soaring dome, large-scale art program and the modern technology of the time—was an ambitious undertaking for Minnesota, which had only become a state in 1858.  

The first state Capitol burned in 1881, and the second was plagued by overcrowding and poor ventiliation almost immediately. Construction of the current Capitol began on May 6, 1896 and was led by architect Cass Gilbert, who would go on to design the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. After nine years and a cost of $4.5 million, the Reinissance Revival-style building opened to the public on Jan. 2, 1905.

When the new Capitol opened, all three branches of state government, state agencies and commissions, and the Minnesota Historical Society were located in the building. But as government needs expanded, the building evolved as well. Although the main public spaces were left mostly intact, remodeling and enlargement of offices and meeting rooms, renovation of chambers and partitioning corridors began occurring as early as the 1930s.

A number of restoration efforts have taken place in recent years including work to restore the Governor’s Reception Room in the 1980s; the Senate Chamber in 1988; the House of Representatives in 1999; the Quadriga in 1995; the Rathskeller Cafe in 1999 and the third floor decorative ceiling in 2008.

When it was discovered that parts of the exterior marble were deteriorating and posed safety concerns, the Capitol underwent a $310 million comprehensive repair and restoration project from 2013-2017. This restoration was based on three key principles: building functionality, life safety and architectural integrity. Renovations included repairing exterior marble, replacing the roof and installing new electrical and mechanical systems and making the building ADA accessible. The Capitol now offers more public space and the building’s historic furniture, artwork and interior decorations have been restored to their 1905 appearance.

Capitol Images

Capitol Images

For immediate release

Release dated: 
December 8, 2016
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org 
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Capitol Images

These images may be used for editorial purposes in magazines, newspapers, broadcast and online to promote the Minnesota State Capitol.

Minnesota State Capitol

Minnesota State Capitol

Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

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Minnesota State Capitol quadriga statue

Minnesota State Capitol, Progress of the State (quadriga) statue

Photo by Leslie Hough, courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

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Minnesota State Capitol dome

Minnesota State Capitol dome, interior

Photo by Brady Willette, courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

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Minnesota State Capitol rotunda

Minnesota State Capitol rotunda

Photo by Charlie Vaughn, courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

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Minnesota State Capitol Governor's reception room

Minnesota State Capitol Governor's reception room

Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

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Minnesota State Capitol information desk

Minnesota State Capitol information and tour desk

Photo by Brady Willette, courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

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Governor's reception room, 1907

Governor's reception room, about 1907

Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

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Minnesota State Capitol, 1913

Minnesota State Capitol, photo by Charles W. Jerome, about 1913

Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

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Restoration Images

Minnesota State Capitol Restoration Images

For immediate release

Release dated: 
December 8, 2016
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Minnesota State Capitol Restoration Images

These images may be used for editorial purposes in magazines, newspapers, broadcast and online to promote the Minnesota State Capitol.

“Battle of Nashville” by Howard Pyle c. 1906, before restoration. The 5th, 7th, 9th and 10th Minnesota Regiments fought in the December 1864 battle. The painting has been located in the Governor’s Reception Room in the Minnesota State Capitol.

Minnesota Historical Society

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“Battle of Nashville” after restoration work from conservators, who cleaned, in-painted and varnished the painting, along with 57 others from the Capitol. See the rest of the Civil War art from the Governor's Reception Room. 

Minnesota Historical Society

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A figure in the mural “The Relation of the Individual to the State,” by John La Farge c. 1905, before restoration work. The mural is located on the west wall of the Supreme Court Chamber.

Parma Conservation, November 2015

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A figure in the mural “The Relation of the Individual to the State” after restoration work. Conservation work included removing discolored varnish and glue, in-painting and plaster repair.  

Parma Conservation, January 2016

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The fully restored mural of “The Relation of the Individual to the State,” one of four murals in the Supreme Court Chamber.

Parma Conservation, February 2016

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A marble festoon on the Capitol’s exterior after years of deterioration.

Minnesota Department of Administration, July 2015

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A newly carved, historically accurate festoon replacing deterioration. The new white Georgia marble was quarried from the same area as the original marble used in the 1905 building.

Minnesota Department of Administration, July 2015

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A conservator adding detail work on an oak leaf swag in a main corridor of the East Wing.

Minnesota Department of Administration, July 2016

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A master carver measuring dimensions to carve a festoon on the Capitol’s exterior.

Minnesota Department of Administration, July 2015

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The Minnesota State Capitol exterior, c. 1913.

Minnesota Historical Society

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Capitol architect Cass Gilbert standing before the building’s partially completed dome, May 1901.

Minnesota Historical Society

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The second floor of the Capitol from Cass Gilbert's architectural plans 

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The Capitol dome from Cass Gilbert's architectural plans 

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Logos

Minnesota State Capitol Logos

For immediate release

Release dated: 
December 8, 2016

Minnesota State Capitol Logos

Horizontal 2 Color Signature Logo

Horizontal 2 Color Signature Logo

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Horizontal Black Signature Logo

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Vertical 2 Color Signature Logo

Vertical 2 Color Signature Logo

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Vertical Black Signature Logo

Vertical Black Signature Logo

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News Releases

August 2, 2017 “Reconciling History: Views on Two Minnesota Paintings,” Opening Aug. 11, 2017
July 11, 2017 Upcoming Programs and Events at the Minnesota State Capitol
July 11, 2017 Minnesota Celebrates $310 Million Restoration of State Capitol
December 30, 2016 MEDIA ALERT: MN State Capitol Opens Tuesday After 3+ Year, $310 Million Renovation, Plus See Capitol Then and Now With Newly Digitized 1905 Construction Photo Album
December 13, 2016 Quick Facts on the Minnesota State Capitol
December 13, 2016 $310 Million Restoration Makes State Capitol Shine
December 8, 2016 Minnesota State Capitol Logos
December 8, 2016 Minnesota State Capitol Restoration Images
December 8, 2016 Capitol Images
December 8, 2016 Minnesota Historical Society Announces Final Decisions for Capitol Art
December 8, 2016 Architecture and Restoration History at the State Capitol
October 8, 2014 Re-Construction Tour and Music of the Civil War at the Minnesota State Capitol in November
September 3, 2014 UPDATE: Explore Toys with Programs for Adults and Kids at the History Center this October
August 6, 2014 New Programs Offered at the Minnesota State Capitol During Renovation this Fall
May 14, 2014 Tours at the State Capitol in June Highlight Architecture and Construction History
March 5, 2014 State Capitol Tours Feature Art and Architecture in April
February 12, 2014 Tours at the State Capitol Highlight Minnesota's Involvement in Women's Suffrage and the Civil War
December 18, 2013 Civil War, Art and Artists and Architecture Tours at the Minnesota State Capitol in January and February
November 20, 2013 Civil War Family Day and Architecture Tour at Minnesota State Capitol in December
October 16, 2013 State Capitol Tours Focus on Minnesota's First Ladies and the Civil War this November
July 17, 2013 Architecture Tour at the Minnesota State Capitol Aug. 17
March 13, 2013 Art and Architecture Tours at the Minnesota State Capitol
February 15, 2013 Presidents Day Photo Opp: Paul and Babe and Civil War Soldiers Visit the State Capitol Monday to Show History Matters
February 6, 2013 State Capitol Tours in March Highlight Woman Suffrage and the Civil War
January 16, 2013 MEDIA ALERT: Capitol Chandelier to be Lit Once Again Jan. 17
January 16, 2013 February Tours of the State Capitol Highlight Art, the Civil War, Architecture and Construction
January 9, 2013 Chandelier to Light Capital Once Again Jan. 17
October 10, 2011 Official Portrait of Governor Tim Pawlenty is Unveiled at Minnesota State Capitol
Minnesota State Capitol Images
B-Roll Video