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Highlights from the State Capitol Restoration

Highlights from the State Capitol Restoration

The Minnesota State Capitol hosted its Grand Re-Opening, Aug. 11-13. Here are some highlights from the three-year, $310 million project.

When the current State Capitol building was built in 1905, it was the third in Minnesota’s storied history (the first burned down in 1881 and the second quickly became too small for the growing government). The 12-year, $4.5 million project designed by local architect Cass Gilbert would be worth $110 million today.

Gilbert’s design included the second largest self-supported dome in the world (behind St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome), numerous sculptures and paintings representative of Minnesota (think lady slippers, loons and gophers), a 6-foot-92-light-bulb chandelier and 1,500 pieces of custom furniture (800 remain today).

Naturally, the following century took quite a toll on the magnificent Capitol building and a restoration project was put in place in 2012 to return the building to its original splendor. The $310 million renovation project took nearly four years, but the work is now complete. Here are some highlights:

A fresh, clean exterior

20,000 repairs were made to the corroded marble exterior and 6,000 pieces of Georgia marble were replaced with stone mined from the same quarry as the originals.

Stay gold, Ponyboy

The golden Quadriga sculpture that sits above the south entrance was cleaned and regilded. Fun fact, the four horses represent the power of nature (earth, wind, fire and water), the women represent civilization and the man represents prosperity.

Mural makeover

Conservators spent several months meticulously tending to the building’s 57 murals with cotton swabs to restore the vibrancy of the paintings.

Let there be light

Six skylights were uncovered to bring in more natural light.

Bring your friends

The restored Capitol has twice as much public space—nearly 40,000 square feet. These spaces include new meeting rooms, lounges, event spaces and public seating in hearing rooms.

Get informed

The Minnesota Historical Society will operate the building’s new information center and classroom for the nearly 1,300 student groups that tour the Capitol every year.

Come hungry

Expanded dining options include a second-floor lunch counter.

See it all for yourself at the Capitol’s Grand Re-Opening, Aug. 11-13! The three-day celebration is packed with activities for all ages, including public art, a scavenger hunt, marble cutting demonstrations, yoga on the lawn, Minnesota-related “Hotdish” panels, a Kid Zone, live music and more.

While you’re taking in the renovated Capitol in all of its glory, make sure to snap a few photos and share them with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #MYSAINTPAUL!

State Capitol Historic Site Attractions/Things to Do State Capitol Historic Site