Wisconsin State Capitol - Madison

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Wisconsin State Capitol Rotunda
Wisconsin State Capitol Rotunda


Built with a windfall of railroad money, The Wisconsin State Capitol is a monument to the ideals held in the most high regard by Wisconsinites of the early 20th century. By physically manifesting these ideals in a building so exquisite, our forefathers and mothers sought to perpetuate these ideas long into the future. There will surely be some debate as to whether our present generation still holds these ideals in similar reverence or whether this state capitol has become an artifact of history; nonetheless, this building presents such an impressive composition as to require such a debate and argument to be ever necessary. The State Capitol is open year round 7 days a week and all are welcome inside. Guided tours are offered on the hour.








WI State Constitution
WI State Constitution


The neo-classical Wisconsin State Capitol is composed of a central rotunda with four wings emanating in the four cardinal directions. The West wing points towards State Street and is the most popular entrance as State Street is the social hub of Madison and is the connection between the State government and the University of Wisconsin Campus. The Assembly chambers occupy the West Wing. The virtual connection between the seat of the State Assembly and the University symbolizes the necessity for truth and reason in legislating (the creation of law).  The State Senate chambers occupy the South Wing, The Supreme Court and the Governor's offices occupy the East Wing, and the public Hearing Room occupies the North Wing.


Carving in the Conference Room
Carving in the Conference Room

The Governor's Office and Conference Room is the first stop on you guided tour.  The conference room is dec'd out with hardwood paneling and flooring, gold leaf trim, a marble fireplace, and numerous wall and ceiling paintings which represent: pioneering, charity, invention, justice, religious tolerance, art, agriculture, commerce, agriculture, and war and peace.


WI State Hearing Room
WI State Hearing Room
The Hearing Room was originally dedicated to the railroad and transportation board. It now serves the main public forum for hearings on proposed legislation. Wall frescoes in this room represent the evolution of transportation: beginning with American Indians in Wisconsin in birch bark canoes, then moving to American Indians and European settlers on horseback, next is the stagecoach, and finally we see a panel which features a steamship, railroad, and airplane.


WI Supreme Court
Your next stop is the Wisconsin Supreme Court. This room looks like many courtrooms. It is an appellate court - so there is no place for a jury. Instead the 7 Supreme Court Justices sit at the front of the room. At the center of table is seated the Chief Justice who sets the court's calendar and agenda. The painting behind the heads of the Justices represents the signing of the United States Constitution. Pictured there is Thomas Jefferson who was in fact not in attendance at the signing.


WI Assembly Chambers
WI Assembly Chambers
The State Assembly is Wisconsin's lower chamber. Bills must pass through the State Assembly by popular vote and progress on to the State Senate. If both chambers pass the bill then it is signed into law by the governor. The Wisconsin Governor has line item veto power which essentially gives him the power to rewrite legislation by striking specific words and assembling new sentences. So, a final bill may be very different than the one voted on by the legislative branch.

The State Assembly features a large wall mural depicting the negotiation of a treaty with American Indians with the image of the State Capitol rising in the distance. Also, you will note that that there is a taxidermied bald eagle watching over the assembly. This eagle represents Old Abe - the mascot of Wisconsin Civil War Veterans. The original Old Abe was in fact a real Eagle who was carried into battle with the troops and is credited with saving the troops from ambush while they were asleep. The original Old Abe was preserved and mounted in the State Capitol which burned to the ground before the current Capitol was constructed.


WI State Senate Chambers
The Senate chambers are arranged in the round, surrounding a round table. This round table is where the bill being debated sits. When a bill is on the side of the table it is said to be "tabled". The wall murals in the Senate Chamber depict America at the center between the West on the right and the East on the left. 

In the Capitol Rotunda, you will look up and find 4 glass and stone mosaics. They are entitled: Justice, Legislation, Government, and Liberty. Liberty is shown guarding the ballot box which symbolized the guarding of the right to vote and the limitations on the other three powers. Government represents the executive branch or the Governor. The Governor is shown as a young romantic warrior. Legislation shows a god-like character holding a tablet, and Justice of course depicts the scales of evidence.

Justice

Government

Legislation
Liberty



Directions, Map, Information



TOUR FEE: Free
ENTRANCE FEE: Free
HOURS: Tours begin on the bottom floor of the Rotunda Monday thru Saturday at: 9am, 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm, and on Sundays at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm.


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Address for your GPS: 2 East Main Street Madison, WI 53703
| coordinates: 43.073881, -89.383205 |

From Milwaukee1.5 Hours
From Madisonn/a
From Green Bay2.5 Hours
From Wausau2.5 Hours
From Minneapolis4 Hours
From Chicago2.5 Hours


Photos




WI State Capitol Dome Interior - The Rotunda
WI State Capitol Dome Interior - The Rotunda


Wisconsin State Capitol - Madison
Wisconsin State Capitol - Madison


Wisconsin State Senate Chambers
Wisconsin State Senate Chambers

Wisconsin State Capitol Hearing Room
Wisconsin State Capitol Hearing Room

Wisconsin State Capitol Hearing Room
Wisconsin State Capitol Hearing Room


Wisconsin State Capitol Senate Chambers
Wisconsin State Capitol Senate Chambers

Wisconsin State Capitol
Wisconsin State Capitol


Wisconsin State Capitol
Wisconsin State Capitol