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Does the State Capitol Have Too Much Civil War Art?

Gov. Mark Dayton said the Capitol’s renovation is a good time to discuss whether Capitol art should reflect a broader part of the state’s history.

Take some time to view the historical paintings in the Minnesota State Capitol, and you’re likely to learn a lot about the Civil War and past governors—and much less about other aspects of the state’s history.

At a State Capitol Preservation Commission meeting Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton said he’d like to see the art showcase a broader representation of the state’s history, the Pioneer Press reported.

The Capitol’s ongoing $272.7 million renovation has officials already talking about changes to the building. Dayton, who also questioned the portraits of former governors, said renovation makes it a ripe time for a public discussion on what type of art should be in the Capitol.

Four of the six large paintings in the governor's reception room are of Civil War events, according to the Minnesota Historical Society:

There are also two more in the anteroom:

The only two that aren’t about the Civil War are:

There are also battle flags on display in the Capitol Rotunda. The Minnesota Historical Society lists 45 flags in its collection. Three of the four on display now are from the Civil War, with the fourth from the Spanish-American War.

However, Grove City Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-18A) countered that the Capitol was built by people who had been involved in the Civil War or had loved ones who were. Urdahl said other areas could be opened up for different types of art.

Do you think the Capitol needs a broader variety of artwork? Or do you think the emphasis on the Civil War is a good way to remember an important part of the state’s history? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Mike B. January 22, 2014 at 04:31 PM
The Capitol does not have enough Civil War art. And I would correct the author. It was really the War against Northern Aggression, as Lincoln and the northerners started the war against the South, who were correct in standing up to the North for states' rights.
Dan Peterson January 23, 2014 at 09:10 AM
It has been fine for a hundred years. In fact very fine. Leave it that way.

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