Our Michigan Capital Has 10 Hidden Secrets, Can You Find Them? 


Michigan Capital | By Sherry Trautman | Traveling Michigan

Did you know there are hidden secrets in the Michigan Capital? 

Embark on our Michigan Capital treasure hunt adventure! Search for giant mollusks, antlers, fancy door knobs and lots more!

While exploring Lansing Michigan, visit the Capital and see who can find these secret items first!

Visiting our State Capital is so much more than just portraits of Governors, offices, chambers and echoing long hallways. While embarking on our treasure hunt adventure, you will search for giant mollusks, antlers, fancy door knobs and lots more!

We bet you never knew visiting our Michigan State Capital could be so much fun!  So plan to spend about two hours during your free visit.


1. Can You Find the 475 Million Year Old Fossils Embedded in the Floor Tiles?

Michigan CapitalMichigan Capital


I was personally fascinated with the black and white floor tiles located in the main corridors. The black tiles are made of limestone and were quarried in Vermont. 

Can you find the fossils of marine snails and other marine animals that lived during the Middle Ordovician time frame, from about 475 million years ago? 

The fossil shown above is a Maclurite, a large snail-like mollusk.


2. What's With the Fancy Doorknobs?

Michigan CapitalMichigan Capital


Even the simplest of things, like the doorknobs are special in our Michigan Capital. As you are wandering throughout the Capital, look for these special doorknobs (and hinges) on the corridor doors.  Each of these doorknobs are cast with Michigan's Coat of Arms and are quite intricate.   


3. Can You Find the Ladies in the Ceiling?

Michigan CapitalMichigan Capital


If you look straight up while wandering in the Rotunda, you will see 8 paintings of ladies, called muses, inspired by Greek and Roman mythology.  Can you find the muse representing art?  Hint, she is holding a paint palette in one hand.

The muses represent art, agriculture, law, science, justice, industry, commerce and education.  These beautiful muses were created by Italian artist, Tommaso Juglaris in 1886.  The muses encourage everyone to "reach for our stars." 


4. Take a Closer Look at the Beautiful Walnut Woodwork and Marble Columns

Michigan CapitalMichigan Capital


While exploring the Michigan Capital, you may have noticed the vast amount of woodwork on the door frames, wainscot and window frames. 

Secret #1:

It appears to be walnut but almost none of it actually is

To save money, the Capital utilized inexpensive Michigan pine and then hand painted all the wood to mimic expensive walnut.  This process is called wood graining and involves applying seven layers of paint by hand.  It's incredible work!   

Secret #2:

The "marble" pillars aren't actually marble either!  The pillars are plaster and you guessed it, they are hand painted to look like marble! 

The Michigan Capital is recognized nationally as a masterpiece of the painted decorative arts of the Gilded Age. 


5. Did You Notice The Ghostly Governor Painting?

Michigan CapitalMichigan Capital

This painting definitely caught my eye as it is vastly different than the traditionally painted portraits on the second floor in the Gallery of Governors. 

This is a portrait of Governor John Swainson, who served from 1961 to 1962.  After only serving one term, the Governor left the office.  Since the governors pay for their own portraits, Mr. Swainson wished to have his painting appear unfinished to symbolize his then unfinished career.


6. Can You Find Your State's Coat of Arms in the Ceiling in both the House of Representatives and State Chamber?

Michigan CapitalMichigan Capital

When you visit the House and Senate Chambers, look up at the magnificent coffered ceilings.  These panes were originally made of red and white hand etched glass but were lost or broken many years ago. They were placed with plastic in the House and plywood in the Senate.  

Can you find your state's Coat of Arms?


7. Where Are the 976 Pieces of Glowing Glass?

Michigan CapitalMichigan Capital

The spectacular floor of the Rotunda has 976 glass tiles that are 5/8" thick.  This floor appears to be glowing as it is lit from below. 

It's fun to look up at the ceiling of glowing glass when you first enter the Capital and then head up the stairs to your right or left to walk on the glowing glass tiles.


8.  Can You Find a Starry Sky?

Michigan Capital, All Photos by Travel-Mi.comMichigan Capital, All Photos by Travel-Mi.com

This phenomenal Rotunda is meant to be awe inspiring.  It's hard not to drop your jaw as you stare up in wonder at the magnificent architecture, paintings and vast open space.   

This spectacular dome was created to inspire you with endless possibilities just within your grasp. 



We dare you to lay down on the glass floor of the Rotunda and look up 160 feet to the "eye" or oculus of the dome.  There, you will see a spectacular starry sky!


9.  Find the "Michigan" Chandeliers!

Michigan CapitalMichigan Capital


I think these Michigan chandeliers are so cool!  They are made of cast metal (not Michigan copper as originally speculated) and you can find 20 throughout the Capital building. 

Can you find the elk and shield design inspired by the state's Coat of Arms?  

Years ago, they were lit by gas but now they are powered by light bulbs.


10.  Can You Find the "Master" Clock?

Michigan CapitalMichigan Capital


The famous master clock shown above is located on the north wall opposite the elevator on the first floor. Would you believe it has occupied this exact space since 1886?!  

Why is it called the Master Clock?  This clock once drove quite a few of other clocks throughout the State Capital.  Oh, and it still keeps great time!


Pin This Michigan Capital Page!

10 Hidden Secrets in the Lansing Michigan Capital10 Hidden Secrets in the Lansing Michigan Capital

Keep Reading (and Being Inspired!)

Subscribe To Receive Exciting Destinations, Day Trips and Fun Directly to Your Inbox!

Traveling Michigan NewsletterTraveling Michigan Newsletter

Sign Up to Our Newsletter to Get the 5 Free Must Have Apps to Travel in Michigan Like a Boss!

Join Us on Instagram, We're Fun!! 

View this post on Instagram

Mari Vineyards offers an unbelievable view while sipping a delicious glass of wine. I just could not get over this view as I strolled around the property. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Mari Vineyards has over 60 acres of vineyards planted entirely on the Old Mission Peninsula, with more being added every year! Seriously, how can you get a better view?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ . ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #marivineyards #whataview #winetasting #michiganwinetasting #wine #winery #miwine #onlyinmichigan #northernmichigan #redwine #traversecity #whitewine #vineyard #michiganwine #puremichigan #puremichigan #traversewinecoast #michigantravel #greatlakesstate #michiganstate #travelingmichigan #greatlakesstateofmind #puremittenpride #lovemichigan #michiganders #exploremichigan #puremittigan

A post shared by Michigan Travel+Food Adventure (@travelingmichigan) on

  1. Traveling Michigan Home Page
  2.  ›
  3. Michigan-Capital
Traveling Michigan's Famous Travel CoupleTraveling Michigan's Famous Travel Couple ;)



Traveling Michigan contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I may receive a commission at no cost to you!  


Love Adventures?
Join our network of Traveling Michigan Explorers! 

Be a part of this amazing community of travelers!

We'll send you the best local adventures, upcoming events, tips and inspiration right to your inbox! Sign Up Now

We hate spam! Your email is safe with us.

Voted Top Influencer for Michigan!

Listed In Top 100 Michigan Blogs & Websites for Michiganders To Follow in 2019 by FeedSpot

TESTIMONIALS

"This photo makes us want to visit Michigan! Job well done! We feel inspired and happy. Thank you!"

~Florida Resident

"I'm honestly surprised how much variety Michigan has to offer after seeing your photos! Or in other words, you guys are doing an excellent job promoting Michigan, seriously!"

~Stefan

"I just moved to Midland a month ago from out of state.  Your account has been a FABULOUS source of adventures for me.  Thanks for making such an informative account!"

~Jillian

I'm honestly surprised how much variety Michigan has to offer after seeing your photos! Or in other words, you guys are doing an EXCELLENT job promoting Michigan, seriously!

~Stefan

"You two definitely know how to trans port to the destination with your pics!"

~Lenny

"Seriously, Michigan is gorgeous all year round! I'm excited to see where you go, then I'll get inspired to go places!"

~Diana

"Because of your photography of Michigan, I am putting Tahquamenon Falls on my Bucket List!" 

~Kathi

"This sounds so cool! We love adventures like this! Keep them coming and keep up the great work!

~FBBG

"Just love your ideas for fun things to do especially since we love to vacation in your beautiful state!"

~Sharlene