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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News Release

$310 Million Restoration Makes State Capitol Shine

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

$310 Million Restoration Makes State Capitol Shine

Capitol reopens for free daily tours beginning Jan. 3, 2017

The Minnesota State Capitol will reopen to the public on 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,” says 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.

On Jan. 3, the Capitol will be open 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 and 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 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
  • Upgrades to make the Capitol ADA accessible

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.

Decorative and Fine Art Highlights
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 on Jan. 3, 2017. 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 Aug. 11-13, 2017. The paintings “Attack on New Ulm” and “Eighth Minnesota at the Battle of Ta-Ha-Kouty” will not return to display at the Capitol; discussions about the pieces’ future exhibition are ongoing.

Find out more about decisions on art displayed at the Capitol.

About MNHS
The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit 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
Free daily public tours return Jan. 3, 2017.

Join MNHS staff for 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.

Grand Opening Celebration
Aug. 11-13, 2017
A unique, historic and truly Minnesotan event will commemorate the completion of the $310 million historic restoration of the State Capitol, the Minnesotans who made it possible, our rich diversity and our shared future.

This free multiday celebration will include:

  • Commemorative and educational events in and around the Capitol building
  • Activities and entertainment for all ages
  • A fun, once-in-a-lifetime experience
  • A kickoff of the next 100 years of the Capitol's service to Minnesotans
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 ($12 million in today’s dollars), 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.

Art at the Capitol News Release

Minnesota Historical Society Announces Final Decisions for Capitol Art

For immediate release

Release dated: 
December 8, 2016
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Lory Sutton, 651-259-3140, lory.sutton@mnhs.org

Minnesota Historical Society Announces Final Decisions for Capitol Art

The Minnesota Historical Society’s Executive Council (governing board) adopted the recommendations of its Ad Hoc Committee today about artwork displayed at the Minnesota State Capitol.

The decisions were made after careful consideration of public input to the Capitol Preservation Commission (CPC) Art Subcommittee, additional public feedback received by MNHS, and input from the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board (CAAPB), the full CPC, and the governor; a thorough analysis of historic preservation standards and specific consideration of the Capitol being listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972; and the fact that the Capitol is a public building in active use and also a historic site.

MNHS and the CAAPB have statutory authority to decide what and where art is displayed in the building, and MNHS determines the final disposition of any works of art removed from the Capitol. The CPC has a consulting and advisory role.

“As the ‘People’s House’ our beloved Capitol is an active public building and compelling icon,” said Stephen Elliott, MNHS director and CEO.  “We respect its historical significance and integrity, and also recognize that what is displayed there today and tomorrow reflects who we are as Minnesotans.  MNHS places a high value on ensuring that every Minnesotan visiting the Capitol, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or position in life, should feel welcome and respected in its spaces and, ideally, represented in its art.”

The MNHS Executive Council has decided:

  • Rather than exhibit all 38 of the governors’ portraits at one time, portraits will be grouped with added interpretation and rotated on exhibit to provide visitors with more meaningful historic interpretation.
  • The six Civil War paintings in the Governor's Reception Room and Anteroom will be retained in place. They are currently undergoing conservation off-site and will return in early 2017. The art was part of architect Cass Gilbert’s original design for the Capitol and according to the National Register of Historic Places is considered a “character-defining” feature.
    • “The Battle of Nashville” by Howard Pyle
    • “The Fourth Minnesota Entering Vicksburg” by Francis D. Millet
    • “The Second Minnesota Regiment at Missionary Ridge” by Douglas Volk
    • “The Battle of Gettysburg” by Rufus Fairchild Zogbaum
    • “The Third Minnesota Entering Little Rock” by Stanley M. Arthurs
    • “The Fifth Minnesota at Corinth” by Edwin Blashfield
  • “Father Hennepin at the Falls of St. Anthony” and “The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux” paintings in the Governor's Reception Room will be relocated and interpreted more robustly elsewhere in the Capitol to share more fully the history of this time period, the significance and historical context of the paintings and the perspectives of American Indians and others.
  • The “Attack on New Ulm” and “Eighth Minnesota at the Battle of Ta-Ha-Kouty” paintings will be removed from exhibition at the Capitol. Discussions will continue about how best to interpret American Indian history within the Capitol, including interactions with other cultures and the contributions of American Indians today. Neither painting is original to the Capitol design and both are painful reminders of our shared history. The “Attack on New Ulm” portrays one incident during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, which not all Dakota supported. This painting should not be the primary portrayal of American Indians who have lived in Minnesota for more than 10,000 years. The “Battle of Ta-Ha-Kouty” occurred in North Dakota and is more appropriately exhibited elsewhere.

Interpretive plans are being developed, and every effort will be made to reinstall artwork in a timely fashion. However, not all of the artwork will be in place when the Capitol opens on Jan. 3, 2017. The governors’ portraits and Civil War paintings will be installed in early 2017.  The “Father Hennepin at the Falls of St. Anthony” and “The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux” paintings will be installed in time for the Capitol’s grand opening Aug. 11-13, 2017.

Over the past three and a half years, the state of Minnesota has undertaken a $310 million restoration project to preserve the Minnesota State Capitol, the first comprehensive restoration since it was built in 1905. Since a major part of the historic significance of the Capitol is its artwork, most of the paintings and murals have been cleaned and repaired for the learning and enjoyment of visitors for the next 100 years. The Capitol will reopen on Jan. 3, 2017 for the legislative session and public tours.  A grand opening celebration for the public is being planned for Aug. 11-13, 2017.

About the Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit 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.

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, newsletters and online to illustrate the Minnesota State Capitol historic site.

“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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The Quadriga returning to the Capitol roof after it was removed to allow for roof repairs. During its removal, conservators regilded the statue and performed other repairs.

 

Minnesota Historical Society

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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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Construction on the Minnesota State Capitol, c. 1901.

Minnesota Historical Society

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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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New Capitol logo, horizonal

New Capitol logo, horizonal

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New Capitol logo, vertical

New Capitol logo, vertical

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Civil War Art Images

Civil War Art Images

For immediate release

Release dated: 
December 8, 2016
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org 
Lory Sutton, 651-259-3140, lory.sutton@mnhs.org

Civil War Art Images

The Civil War paintings in the Governor’s Reception Room are part of 57 paintings that underwent conservation work. The before and after scenes are displayed here.

These images may be used for editorial purposes in magazines, newspapers, newsletters and online to illustrate the Minnesota State Capitol historic site.

“Battle of Nashville” by Howard Pyle c. 1906, before restoration. The 5th, 7th, 9th and 10th Minnesota Regiments fought in the December 1864 battle.

Minnesota Historical Society

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“Battle of Nashville” after restoration work.

Minnesota Historical Society

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“The Second Minnesota Regiment at Missionary Ridge” by Douglas Volk c. 1906, before restoration.

Minnesota Historical Society

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“The Second Minnesota Regiment at Missionary Ridge” after restoration.

Minnesota Historical Society

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“The Third Minnesota Entering Little Rock” by Stanley M. Arthurs c. 1910, before restoration.

Minnesota Historical Society

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“The Third Minnesota Entering Little Rock” after restoration.

Minnesota Historical Society

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“The Fourth Minnesota Regiment Entering Vicksburg, July 4, 1863” by Francis D. Millet, c. 1904, before restoration.

Minnesota Historical Society

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"The Fourth Minnesota Regiment Entering Vicksburg, July 4, 1863" after restoration. 

Minnesota Historical Society

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“The Fifth  Minnesota Regiment at Corinth” by Edwin H. Blashfield c. 1912, before restoration.

Minnesota Historical Society

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“The Fifth Minnesota Regiment at Corinth” after restoration.

Minnesota Historical Society

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“The Battle of Gettysburg” by Rufus Fairchild Zogbaum c. 1906, before restoration.

Minnesota Historical Society

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“The Battle of Gettysburg” after restoration.

Minnesota Historical Society

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