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State Capitol dome under construction to preserve historical artwork

Michigan state capitol dome
Bimatshu Pyakuryal
The central rotunda in the Capitol is being filled with scaffolding to reach the dome. The last time the dome saw maintenance was 30 years ago.

Officials responsible for maintaining the State Capitol have begun construction on the building’s iconic dome to preserve the historical artwork inside the building.

The last time the dome saw any maintenance was 30 years ago during the building's major restoration project. The art above the central rotunda includes eight allegory paintings of women that represent different priorities in the state.

William Kandler, the chair of the Michigan State Capitol Commission that oversees the building, said those pieces have endured some wear and tear from exposure to the sun and humidity. He added large amounts of dust have also gathered in the dome.

“There's some really very exquisite artwork up there that is kind of being affected by the elements," Kandler said. "We're gonna be doing some kind of preservation of the surfaces and allegorical paintings that’re up there.”

The rotunda is currently being filled with over a hundred feet of scaffolding to reach the dome, a process that alone will take about a month. Paths have been maintained to navigate around the area, but the iconic space will remain inaccessible to visitors as the project continues.

"This is an enormous amount of scaffolding," Kandler said. "On the first floor, in the rotunda we have a glass floor, so we have to support that on the ground floor...so it's quite a engineering project".

Kandler said workers will install new UV-resistant windows to protect the art from the sun. They'll also install humidity and temperature sensors, clean the dust from the area, and update the fire suppression system.

The project will cost about $3 million.

Kandler said he expects it will take several months to complete the project.

Construction crews recently completed the Capitol's maintenance garage project installed by Heritage Hall along Ottawa Street.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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