The first state capitol building in Jefferson City was built in the period of 1823-1826 and was destroyed by fire in 1837. A new capitol building had been approved at the time and was completed in 1840. The second capitol was destroyed by fire on February 5, 1911, when a bolt of lightning struck the dome. The present capitol was built in the period of 1913-1917 and stands upon the same spot as the first, high atop a bluff overlooking the Missouri River.
One significance in the capitol building is the Missouri State Museum, which is located on the first floor of the Missouri State Capitol Building, and run by the Department of Natural Resources and Division of State Parks. The museum contains long-term exhibits and regularly changing temporary exhibits. Also, there is a program that develops a series of traveling exhibits that can be used as educational tools by schools, civic and other groups. The Missouri State Museum is responsible for a large collection, consisting of approximately 93,000 artifacts and objects from all aspects of Missouri’s history.
These artifacts and objects have been collected since the museum was first opened. One of the highlights of the collection is the collection of over 125 Missouri Civil War battle flags. Thirty-three of the flags have been conserved and eleven have been framed. The “Missouri Veterans Gallery” is in the east end of the Missouri State Museum is a new long-term exhibit. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a brass model of the USS Missouri battleship built by the U. S. Navy for research. The exhibit also includes artifacts and images related to Missouri veterans as well as excerpts from interviews with veterans.
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The Museum staff developed this exhibit to inform visitors about the key role of Missouri veterans in the history of the state. In 1935, Missouri native Thomas Hart Benton was summoned upon the Missouri House of Representatives to paint a mural on all 4 walls of the House Lounge, which is a large meeting room on the third floor in the Capitol’s west wing. The mural portrays bold and vivid scenes of everyday Missouri life, which at first sparked controversy among the legislators. Benton’s mural represents a source of pride and a popular stop for visitors touring the Capitol.
In addition to housing the two legislative bodies, the Capitol provides office space for the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, State Auditor and some administrative agencies. The structure is also notable for its architectural features, including its eight 48-foot columns on the south portico and six 40-foot columns on the north side; its 30-foot-wide grand stairway and its bronze front doors, each 13 by 18 feet. There are no weaknesses of the capitol building when providing a historical museum, free guided tours, and opened almost everyday of the year.
The purpose of the capitol building is more to inform tourist about Missouri history than housing for two legislative bodies, the Capitol provides office space for the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, State Auditor and some administrative agencies. The museum had excellent exhibits, including the brass model of the USS Missouri battleship. Throughout the first floor, the capitol building had exhibits about the early settlers. I would recommend to people who love to learn about history to take a tour of the Missouri State Capitol Building.
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