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!

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About the Lead Author | Sherry Trautman

Thanks for stopping by!

Our Words of Wisdom: “Never follow anyone else’s path. Unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path, then by all means follow that path.”

"Sherry & Chris"

We're Sherry and Chris the founders of one of Michigan's most comprehensive and Top Travel Blogs!

    Sherry Trautman is a seasoned business owner and a multifaceted content creator, deeply entrenched in the world of travel in Michigan. With her extensive background in writing, editing, photography, marketing, website design, web mastering, social media, and publishing, she is the driving force behind the acclaimed Michigan Travel site "Travel-mi.com." A lifelong Michigander, Sherry's journey began in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan led her to St. Joseph during her formative years, and further to Kalamazoo for her higher education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design and Fine Art from Western Michigan University. Her career initially blossomed in Battle Creek, where she contributed significantly to aviation, marketing, and the art industry.

    In 2018, Sherry, alongside her husband Chris, embarked on a passionate endeavor with the inception of Travel-MI.com. This venture was not just a business but a full-time commitment to exploring and celebrating the diverse landscapes and communities of Michigan. Together, they tirelessly traverse the state, curating unique experiences, capturing stunning visuals, and weaving engaging narratives that showcase Michigan's rich cultural tapestry and natural beauty. From her early experiences in different Michigander locales to her extensive professional background, Sherry's life and work epitomize a deep-rooted expertise in Michigan travel, making her an authoritative voice in this niche.

Sherry & Chris are at the Inn at Bay Harbor and looking out at the lake.
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