Missouri State Capitol
- Phone: (573) 751-2854
Completed in 1917, the Capitol covers three acres in downtown Jefferson City. Inside the Capitol you will find the Missouri State Museum which features exhibits of outstanding historical significance.
The 45-minute guided Capitol tour is the best way to experience the historic and decorative features of the building. It will provide you with an excellent education on the State of Missouri and the structure that represents its home. The dome, topped by a bronze statue of Ceres, the goddess of vegetation, is the first view of Jefferson City for travelers arriving from every direction. The structure is Jefferson City’s leading tourist attraction and is a Mecca for school and bus groups who arrive by busloads, particularly during General Assembly sessions when they fill the galleries to watch the Senate and House of Representatives in action.
The present Capitol, completed in 1917 and occupied the following year, is the third Capitol in Jefferson City and the sixth in Missouri history. The first seat of state government was housed in the Mansion House, Third and Vine Streets, St. Louis; the second was in the Missouri Hotel, Maine and Morgan Streets, also in St. Louis. St. Charles was designated as temporary capital of the state in 1821 and remained the seat of government until 1826 when Jefferson City became the permanent capital city. The first Capitol in Jefferson City burned in 1837 and a second structure, completed in 1840, burned down when the dome was struck by lightning on February 5, 1911.
The present Capitol was constructed for $4,215,000, including site and furnishings. The special property tax approved specifically for funding a new Capitol generated a $1 million surplus. The attorney general ruled that the money had to be used on the building. It was decided to use the money to deocrate the Capitol; a five-person commission recruited some of the most notable artists of the day including Frank Brangwyn, N.C. Wyeth, James Earle Fraser and Alexander Stirling Calder. The result is a splendid collection of stained glass, murals, carvings and statuary portraying Missouri’s history, legends and cultural achievements.
In 1935, the Missouri House of Representatives commissioned Missouri native Thomas Hart Benton to paint a mural on the four walls of the House Lounge, a large meeting room on the third floor in the Capitol’s west wing. The mural at first sparked controversy among the legislators with its bold and vivid scenes of everyday Missouri life. Surviving attempts to whitewash it, Benton’s “Social History of Missouri” is now a source of pride and a popular stop for visitors touring the Capitol.
It is five stories high, 437 feet long, 300 feet wide in the center and 200 feet wide in the wings. The dome is 262 feet high and the height of the wings is 88 feet. The building, which covers three acres and 500,00 square feet of floor space, is literally a museum of public art, remarkable not only for its quality and abundance, but as a faithful reflection of the themes, events and people of Missouri.
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—the largest cast since the Roman era.
The proceedings of Missouri State government take place in the magnificent, domed Capitol dominating the bluffs of the Missouri River in Jefferson City. Statuary is a prominent feature of the Capitol grounds. Heroic bronze figures depicting Missouri’s two great rivers, the Mississippi and Missouri, and a 13-foot statue of Thomas Jefferson dominate the south entrance. A bronze relief depicting the signing of the Louisiana Purchase by Livingston, Monroe and Marbois and the Fountain of the Centaurs are the most outstanding features on the north grounds.
The Missouri State Museum is located on the first floor of the Missouri State Capitol Building, and run by the Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks. The museum contains long-term exhibits and regularly changing temporary exhibits. There is also 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 history, natural history, and resources history that have been collected since the museum’s inception. 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. The Museum staff developed this exhibit to inform visitors about the key role of Missouri veterans in the history of the state. The Missouri State Museum is open 7 days a week, from 8am until 5pm. There is no admission fee. The only days that the State Museum is closed are the 4 major holidays (New Years Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
The Missouri State Capitol is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except January 1, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). Free guided tours of the Capitol are offered year round and are approximately 45 minutes in length. For walk-in groups less than 10, tours are given Monday -Saturday every hour on the hour, beginning at 9 a.m., (excluding the noon hour) with the last tour beginning at 4 p.m. and on Sundays tours are given at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. Reservations are required for groups of 10 or more. Group tour times for March through May begin at the top of the hour, 20 minutes past the hour and 40 minutes past the hour (excluding the noon hour). During these months, walk-in guests may participate in the group tours. During the months of June through February tours may be scheduled every half hour beginning at 9 a.m. (excluding the noon hour) with the last tour beginning at 4 p.m. Tour reservations may be made online.