Nebraska's Capitol Masterpiece
Click Here to see images from Nebraska's Capitol Masterpiece Gallery.
What makes a building a masterpiece? Nebraska’s Capitol is unique design – the first to depart from the federal dome that adorns statehouses across the country. Instead, it’s a monumental tower rising above the Plains. But far from “plain,” Nebraska’s Capitol is a masterpiece of art and architecture – and the spirit of everything Nebraskan. Now, the story of how it was created and designed is the subject of a new NET Television documentary, Nebraska’s Capitol Masterpiece.
The story unfolds through dazzling artwork, interviews, archival film and photos, and letters from the design team. Together, they trace how the Capitol’s design developed from an idea selected in a 1920 nationwide competition to its completion in 1932.
Barbara Day was an eyewitness to the raising of the iconic Sower statue in 1930. “He was big – 18 feet tall. And he very slowly inched up the side of the tower,” recalls Day.
Gloria Witherspoon, a Capitol tour leader for more than two decades, says one thing distinguishes Nebraska’s Capitol from all others: “Everything about this building tells a story – the art on the walls, the floors, everything,”
That was the intent of the Capitol’s gifted creative team – led by veteran architect Bertram Goodhue and sculptor Lee Lawrie, a young female muralist named Hildreth Meiere, and University of Nebraska philosopher Hartley Burr Alexander.
“Anything from artwork in the floor, ceiling mosaic, or in carvings of the building were carefully planned.,” says architect Bob Ripley, Administrator of the Capitol Commission, who oversees the history and upkeep of the Capitol. Ripley adds, “They tell the story of the development of Nebraska as a place, it’s natural and human history, and the 3,000 year evolution of democracy.”