Fireworks, behind-the-scenes tours, outdoor yoga and a Prince-themed dance party will all be part of a three-day celebration in August marking the end of a major renovation project at the Minnesota Capitol.
Gov. Mark Dayton and other state officials on Tuesday unveiled details for the Minnesota State Capitol 2017 Grand Opening, scheduled for Aug. 11 through Aug. 13. The governor called the three-year, $310 million project a “phenomenal effort” that highlighted the ability of DFL and Republican leaders to cut across partisan divides and achieve a shared goal.
“[The Capitol] represents a place where our democracy resides and where people come together with their honest differences and disagreements and all different perspectives from across the state,” Dayton said. “This building was built to last, just as our democracy was built to last.”
Crews finished much of the work on the building last January, when lawmakers arrived in St. Paul for the start of the legislative session. Between now and August, they’ll be completing a few final touches, like restoring green lawns to areas that became temporary parking lots, and hanging artwork around the building.
It was the first major renovation since the Capitol opened in 1905. Speaking at the news conference announcing details of the upcoming celebration, Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea noted that the Minnesotans of that era took deep pride in a building that showed off the ambitions and hopes of a relatively new state.
“Thousands of Minnesotans traveled in the dead of winter to walk through these marble halls and marvel at their new Capitol building,” she said. “And more than a century later, that Capitol would still be considered one of America’s most beautiful public buildings.”
Visitors to the August celebration can learn more about the Capitol’s history and design on guided tours and in a panel discussion on the building’s architect, Cass Gilbert. More recent Minnesota celebrities will be on hand, including Vice President Walter Mondale and former Minnesota Gov. Al Quie, who will speak on a “hot dish panel” discussion. Musical acts Lizzo and Poliça will perform during a slate of Saturday evening activities that also includes cocktails on the loggia (a balcony off the Capitol), the raising of the chandelier in the Capitol rotunda and fireworks on the Capitol lawn.
In total, the budget for the celebration is $560,000, of which the state has raised about $500,000 through private donations so far.
Each day’s events will begin with yoga on the Capitol lawn, feature a “Kids Zone” with family friendly activities and include performances by local groups ranging from the Somali Museum Dance Troupe to the Bill Koncar Polka Band.
The construction workers who took part in the restoration project will get special recognition, including a dedication of a special memorial plaque and a Sunday afternoon ice cream social for the workers and their families.