The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 16, 2014

Minn. Capitol renovation sparks debate on building's art

ST. PAUL — Besides being the seat of state government, the Minnesota Capitol is practically an art gallery, filled with murals of historic scenes and allegorical images of virtues the building's designers hoped to see in their leaders: wisdom, courage, integrity.

But almost 110 years after the Statehouse opened, a massive renovation project has provoked a mild but deeply felt debate about the artwork, with some lawmakers hoping to update a calcified collection and others committed to leaving it unchanged.

An impromptu remark by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton helped spark the discussion when he wondered during a renovation-related meeting whether his reception room really needed six paintings of Civil War scenes.

"People should be proud of what Minnesotans did in the Civil War," said state Rep. Diane Loeffler, a Minneapolis Democrat on a committee overseeing the renovation. "But maybe a lot of us would like to see the story of some contributions since then."

The governor later clarified that he only meant to start a dialogue about the art, and he got it. Rep. Dean Urdahl, a Republican from Litchfield, was among those taking the conservative view.

"The Civil War paintings should stay where they are," Urdahl said. "Things that today could be interpreted as bad or violent, that's our state's history too."

When the Capitol opened in 1905, almost all of Minnesota's political and business leaders were men who had served in the Union Army.

"The war was the paramount event of their lives, and of most of the nation's at that point, which is why it's so heavily depicted," Urdahl said.

Today, Loeffler said, Minnesota "is a story of leaders of both genders, all different kinds of ethnicities and races.

The Capitol's most prominent artwork is "The Battle of Nashville" by Howard Pyle, a popular children's book illustrator of the time, showing the Union attack on a Confederate position outside that Tennessee city.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Minneapolis to NYC flight diverted to Milwaukee MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Delta Air Lines flight from Minneapolis to New York City has landed safely in Milwaukee after it was diverted. Delta spokeswoman Kate Modolo says the crew chose to divert the flight Saturday morning out of an abundance of caution a

    July 26, 2014

  • Hamas rejects 4-hour Gaza war truce extension BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip (AP) — A Hamas official says the group has rejected a four-hour extension of a humanitarian truce proposed by Israel. Sami Abu Zuhri sent a text message to reporters Saturday, saying: "No agreement to extending the calm for an

    July 26, 2014

  • Arizona execution renews debate over methods SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A third execution by lethal injection has gone awry in six months, renewing debate over whether there is a foolproof way for the government to humanely kill condemned criminals, and whether it's even worth looking for one. Death

    July 26, 2014

  • Lake Huron fishery recovers, but anglers skeptical TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — More than a decade after its prized chinook salmon crashed, Lake Huron is fertile fishing territory once more, with fast-growing populations of native species such as walleye and lake trout, biologists say. Now the challen

    July 26, 2014

  • Minnesota prosecutor convicted of sex misconduct DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — A jury on Friday convicted a northern Minnesota county attorney of sexual misconduct involving a 17-year-old girl after the prosecution argued the man was in a position of authority over the teenager. The jury found Cook County

    July 26, 2014

  • Some in 'torture' report denied chance to read it ASPEN, Colo. (AP) — About a dozen former CIA officials named in a classified Senate report on decade-old agency interrogation practices were notified in recent days that they would be able to review parts of the document in a secure room in suburban

    July 26, 2014

  • Police hunt for 2 who carjacked SUV, killed 3 kids PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Police are searching for two men who carjacked an SUV and plowed into a group of children and adults selling fruit to raise money for their church, killing three siblings and critically injuring their mother and the carjacking vic

    July 26, 2014

  • 1 hurt in fiery Twin Cities interstate crash ROSEVILLE, Minn. (AP) — Authorities say one person was hurt in a fiery crash involving four vehicles on a Twin Cities interstate. The crash on Interstate 35 brought morning traffic to a halt during a rainy commute. The Minnesota State Patrol says a

    July 25, 2014

  • Black box found at Air Algerie wreckage site PARIS (AP) — French soldiers recovered a black box from the Air Algerie wreckage site in a desolate region of restive northern Mali on Friday, officials said. Terrorism hasn't been ruled out as a cause, although officials say the most likely reason f

    July 25, 2014

  • Ukraine reports overnight rebel attacks on border MOSCOW (AP) — The Ukrainian army on Friday claimed that soldiers came under artillery fire from the Russian side of the border overnight and were attacked by rebels in several other places in the restive east. Ukrainian forces are trying to close in

    July 25, 2014