Michigan State Capital Offers Surprises and Cool Things to See Today

Michigan State Capital | By Sherry Trautman | Traveling Michigan

Visit our Michigan Capital building in a fun new way to see the stunning Gallery of Governors, House of Representatives and Senate Chambers! We promise you will have fun while learning (because nobody likes boring stuff!).   

*Plus, embark on our 10 Hidden Secrets in the Michigan Capital treasure hunt for even more fun! 

*We also have lots of fun ideas of things to do while you are in Lansing Michigan.

Take a Virtual Tour of the Michigan State Capital!

See the Rotunta, 160 Historic Battle Flags and the Famous Starry Dome!

Secret Treasure Hunt in the State Capital!

Michigan State Capital DoorknobMichigan State Capital Doorknob

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!

Where is the Entrance to the Michigan State Capital?

It can be very confusing to determine where the entrance to the Michigan State Capital is located.  My friend and I wandered around for quite a while.  See the circle above as the entrance is under the massive front staircase!!

What to Do First When Visiting the State Capital?

You will arrive on the ground floor and walk past security.  Be sure to take a guide book (free to borrow) if you wish to have a self guided tour which is also free

This book is invaluable for your experience and we read along as we walked.  

If you wish to have a guided tour or have questions, call the Information Service line at 517-373-2353.  

See the Senate in Action!

Michigan State Capital SenateMichigan State Capital Senate

The Senate (blue room) has public viewing areas on the third floor.  You are welcome to enter but you must remain seated if the chamber is in session.  This is a very quiet room so we didn't speak as people were working. Both galleries have areas for wheelchairs.  

FYI: It's very easy to get turned around as you are going between floors so I just memorized that the Senate has predominately blue walls and the House has pink.  

The Senate has 38 members and is the smaller chamber (between the Senate and the House of Representatives).

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  These panes were originally made of red and white hand etched glass but were lost or broken many years ago.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?

Learn More About the House of Representatives

The House of Representatives Chamber (pink room) has 110 members.  Each representative is elected to a two-year term.  They sit at an assigned desk with Republicans on the right and Democrats on the left. (So that's where the right and left designation originated!!)

The presiding officer is the Speaker of the House and is elected to this position by the members.

Did you know the original 1878 desks were refinished and are still used in this chamber?  Pretty cool, huh!  It would have been a waste to get new desks when these are spectacular!

The Gallery of Governors is Breathtaking!

The Gallery of Governors is a portrait gallery of past Governors located on the second and third floor.  The Governors pay for their own portraits and after they leave office, the portrait is hung in this gallery. Be sure to walk around the full circle.

There are only 14 portraits in total and they are arranged in chronological order, with the most recent portraits hung on the second floor and the oldest portraits displayed on the third floor. When a new governor leaves office, the oldest portrait gets the boot.  Just kidding, the oldest one is moved to another area in the building...(well, gets the boot).

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.

The Rotunda is the Star of the Show!

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. 

This 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.

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!

Supreme Court

This Supreme Court room is just magnificent.  The chairs look so comfortable and the wood work is extraordinary.

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