More than a century after it first opened to the public, the Minnesota State Capitol is finally set to get its own grand opening celebration — complete with fireworks, live music, guided tours and even an event celebrating craft beer.
Starting at 7:30 a.m. Friday and continuing through Sunday evening, the Minnesota State Capitol 2017 Grand Opening party will mark the end of a three-year, $310 million restoration project and celebrate the history and culture of the state. Officials expect 50,000 to 60,000 people will come to St. Paul for at least part of the three-day bash, which features events as wide-ranging as outdoor yoga, a Prince-themed dance party, marble-cutting demonstrations and a panel featuring former Vice President Walter Mondale.
“The grand opening is really to celebrate the building, but it’s more of a thank you to the people of Minnesota for making this possible,” said Curt Yoakum, assistant commissioner for the Department of Administration.
The lengthy renovation project included updates to the building’s aging heating, ventilation and fire sprinkler systems, along with more visible updates like the restoration of artwork found around the Capitol.
For the first time since the project began, visitors will again be able to get on the roof to check out the quadriga statue, “The Progress of the State,” featuring four golden horses.
Tours held throughout the weekend will provide close-ups of the Capitol. Participants will get a rare chance to see some of the governor’s offices, walk onto the Senate chamber floor and take a peek at a private Supreme Court deliberation room that’s usually off-limits to the public.
Yoakum said the celebration is particularly notable because the state didn’t hold an official grand opening when the Capitol first went into use in 1905. Civil War veterans marched to the Capitol with flags and a small ceremony marked the laying of the cornerstone, but there was nothing to match the plans for this weekend.
A full schedule of events is available online, along with information on how to get to the celebration. Metro Transit is offering free light-rail and bus passes, while Uber is offering a $10 discount to riders who use a special code for the event. Free parking will also be available in several state-run parking lots and ramps around the Capitol starting at 4 p.m. Friday.