The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

March 2, 2006

Photo: Examples of some of the colors used to repaint Old Capitol’s interior, from left -- Governor’s Office, Jamestown blue; Gift shop, seminola; House Chamber, sultan red.

Old Capitol To Reopen May 6

A beloved Iowa landmark will reopen this spring.

On May 6, the Old Capitol, the building in which Iowa made the transition from territory to statehood and which remains a centerpiece of the University of Iowa campus, will be open to the public once more.

The reverse-spiral staircase, the 650-pound crystal-and-brass chandelier in the Senate Chamber and the blue inner dome that rises above the center hallway will be on display for the first time since Nov. 20, 2001, when a renovation accident caused a fire that destroyed the 160-year-old cupola, dome and bell.

But it's what's new that is likely to capture the most attention. Most noticeable are the colors: no longer off-white, the interior walls of the Old Capitol now sport sultan red in the House Chamber, semolina in the gift shop and Jamestown blue in the Senate Chamber. The rich, neoclassical color palette was determined in consultation with Einhorn Yaffee Prescott, a Boston firm that specializes in architecturally accurate restorations.

Additionally, two new galleries on the ground level will be available for public viewing: the Iowa Humanities Gallery, which will feature exhibitions on Iowa history and culture and UI research, and the Discovery Center, which includes engaging exhibitions on immigration, exploration, and Iowa's population past and future. A main focus will be the Children's Diary Project, a selection of diary entries gleaned from Iowa children past and present. Both exhibition spaces will open in conjunction with the grand reopening.

"The Old Capitol is a cherished landmark, not just for the University of Iowa, but for the entire state because of the important role it played in Iowa's history and will play in Iowa's future," said Willard "Sandy" Boyd, UI president emeritus and professor of law. "The Old Capitol will be a center of learning about the past and future of Iowa. Not only is it an historic site, but it will have programs of great public interest in its role as the Iowa Center for the Humanities."

Among the special events scheduled as part of the May 6 celebration are a 9:30 a.m. ceremony with invited speakers, and a musical performance by Collegium Tubum. Following a ribbon cutting, the Old Capitol will be open until 5 p.m. for public tours. The day will also present visitors with an opportunity to bring a picnic lunch to the Pentacrest and enjoy musical performances. Further details of the day's activities will be announced in April.

The Old Capitol Museum's regular hours will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. On Thursdays and Saturdays the museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. The museum will be closed Mondays.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Linzee McCray, University Relations Publications, 319-384-0044,

EDITOR'S NOTE: Because of ongoing construction, the university is currently unable to grant media access to the building. As the date nears, there will be several opportunities for media access. For more information, contact Linzee McCray, 319-384-0044 or