Designed by local architect Cass Gilbert, construction of Minnesota's third state Capitol began in 1896 and opened to the public in January 1905. Those visitors who walked through the doors for the first time were amazed at the beautiful architectural details including one of the world's largest self-supporting marble domes, artwork that filled entire walls and spacious chambers for elected officials. As important, was seeing over twenty types of stone in the decoration from throughout the world enhanced by electric lights. The building was and still is the seat of Minnesota government. Like those visitors 113 years ago, today's guests can share much of that same visual experience due to a four-year comprehensive repair and restoration of this most prominent public building in the state.
Along with repairing or replacing sections of exterior stone, the inside restoration work included cleaning and restoring decorative wall panels, fine art murals and light fixtures and bringing back over one hundred pieces of original furniture to complement other historic pieces in the public corridors, meeting rooms and chambers. Other work included a new roof and copper panels, electrical and mechanical systems and new LED lighting throughout. Additional public space was created to provide new meeting and conference rooms, and an exhibit gallery on the third floor. Another spectacular change was the transformation of the basement from a warren of offices, storage and mechanical rooms to more public space with exposed foundation stones and easier access to the original German rathskeller that is used as a cafeteria during legislative session.
The combination of the art and architecture provides a feast of color and grand vistas for this iconic and premier public building in Minnesota.
Guided tours are offered by the Minnesota Historical Society Monday-Saturday 10 am - 2 pm (Tours begin at the top of each hour). Check-in at the 1st Floor Capitol Information and Tour Center.