Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Coming Soon to a Capitol Near You!

Ah, the pleasures of summer – sunset’s over the Great Salt Lake, warm dry evenings, the smell of freshly cut grass, the twinkle of the first stars as dusk falls, and the gentle glow of the silver screen. The Utah State Capitol announces their premier outdoor film series:

Movie Under the Stars!

The summer film series will kick-off on June 10th and run through August. We are currently working to bring the community great movie presentations. Stay tuned for our entertaining, family friendly movie line-up.

Movies start when it gets dark (approximately 8:30 p.m.) – time varies as the summer goes on – but come early to enjoy concessions and chatting.

If you have any questions, contact our Visitor Services at capitoltours@utah.gov . To stay in the loop and for more updates for Movie Under the Stars, please check this blog. Tell all your friends about this wonderful new summer event!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Visitors from around the world

Sculpted by Eugene Daub, Robert Firmin, and Jonah Hendrickson, "Immigration & Settlement" symbolizes, in its timeless setting, the fact that Utah encourages and welcomes new citizens from a wide range of backgrounds. The Utah Spirit of Immigration and Settlement gently sweeps forward into Utah, in a Bernini-like movement out from of her niche into the center of The People’s House. A breeze, blowing from the past into the future, animates her robes. She is leading the way into Utah for the next generation, which, represented by the girl, holds the entire Earth—the potential source of immigration—in her hands. The spirit barely touches the girl’s shoulder—just sufficiently for reassurance—it is up to the girl to decide for herself if she will immigrate and settle in Utah.

The State Capitol is visited daily by people from all over the world. Yesterday, the U.S Ambassador from Russia marvelled at the beautiful Senate Chamber while a large group of visitors from Germany, here in Utah to ski and enjoy our canyon country, remarked again and again how impressed they were with the ornate details of the building. Today, youth from countries such as Mali, Burma, and Tanzania - many of whom relocated from refugee camps less than 6 months ago - excitedly moved throughout the marble hallways.

Whether from locales near or far, visitors are welcomed by one of our 60 volunteer docents with a warm smile and a willingness to share their love of this building and vast knowledge of it's unique story.

Granite School District Newcomer Academy

Docents: Pam Jones and Janet Reese

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thank You Docents!

This is a heartfelt thank you to the many docent's who contributed to the success of our school tours throughout this past Legislative Session. Joanna Hudson, Tour Coordinator and I are so grateful.

You handled large tour groups with patience and grace, and thanks to your flexibility and smooth control we were able to orchestrate a record number of class recognitions and meetings with Legislators. This did not go unnoticed by those elected to represent the people of Utah, and many Representatives and Senators have mentioned how much they have appreciated what you do.

Again, thank you for all of your support and hard work. We are lucky to have every docent at the Utah State Capitol!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Capitol Curator, Judith McConkie, PhD Book Signing - Wednesday, March 11 - 11:00-1:00

The Utah Capitol Store continues with our Utah Author's program, we are excited to feature Capitol Curator, Judith McConkie, PhD author of With Anxious Care. Judith will be available to sign your copy of With Anxious Care and answer your questions, Wednesday, March 11 from 11:00 am -1:00 pm.

With Anxious Care
In his remarkable book The Seven Lamps of Architecture, the famed Victorian architect John Ruskin declared, "Watch an old building with anxious care, guard it as best you may." Through a creative combination of riveting photos and an alluring descriptive history, author Judith McConkie, the Capitol's curator, captures the anxious care that has created and preserved Utah's Capitol. The book begins with a personal introduction by the preservation project's executive architect, David H. Hart, FAIA. The book features wonderful photography including historic photographs of the Capitol's early 20th century beginnings and stunning pictures of recent preservation and restoration by the book's graphic design artist Michael Dunn. The history, art, and architecture of the building are presented with eloquent clarity fit for an audience of both scholars and amateurs.

Allyson Gamble and the Utah Capitol Store Staff

Monday, March 9, 2009

Welcome to the Utah State Capitol Visitor Services Blog

I'd like to begin by simply thanking you for visiting this blog. I hope you find something that interests you. The Capitol is incredibly fascinating to me and I enjoy the privilege of sharing this fascination with visitors. Exciting things regularly happen on Capitol Hill and I hope to keep you updated. I also hope this blog helps give you a better idea of what our visitor services program is all about.

In addition to our immensly capable tour coordinator, Joanna Hudson, and our wonderful team of volunteer docents, this blog is a part of our effort to realize our Visitor Services mission statement. Here is that statement:

The Visitor Services Program for the Utah State Capitol provides a meaningful experience for all visitors to the Capitol Hill Complex. The program educates visitors about the history of Utah, history of the Capitol, appreciation of the democratic process and the restoration and renovation of the Utah State Capitol. The program provides opportunities for visitors to understand the Capitol through thematic guided experiences and activities highlighting the Capitol, its grounds, artwork and artifacts, exhibitions, and events, as well as the people who serve the citizens of the state.

With these goals in mind, we intend to make your visits to the Capitol memorable and exciting. If you haven't seen the restored Capitol, I invite you to come and see it!And if you have, I hope you'll come back soon and bring a friend or two.

Also, if you haven't yet visited the Capitol's main website, click here to take a look.

Thanks again for your visit!
Allyson Gamble
Director of Public Relations, Communications and Visitor Services

Victorian Society in America Preservation Award

I am excited to announce that the Capitol Preservation Project has been awarded The Victorian Society in America's (VSA) Preservation Award for 2009. The VSA's Preservation Awards Program was created to honor projects of outstanding merit in the preservation or restoration of significant artifacts of Victorian material culture. The VSA will publicize its awards through a press release and on its website in the near future. To learn more about the VSA visit their website by clicking here.

The Capitol's rich and important history began just as the twentieth century was just getting underway. Plans for the building of Utah's Capitol began when the Capitol Commission contracted with the Olmsted Brother’s, one of the most famous landscape architectural firms in American history. John C. Olmsted, son of Fredrick Law Olmsted, the renowned designer of Central Park, created the initial plans for Capitol Hill’s landscape. His plans were later modified by the Capitol’s architect Richard K.A. Kletting. Due to a number of challenges, elements of their original plans were not incorporated into the final construction. For example, the beautiful oval pathway that circumscribes the campus was a central part of Olmsted’s plan. Today the path is lined with hundreds of Yoshino cherry trees and connects major monuments around the complex, providing the way for a scenic and informative walk or jog. Furthermore, two office buildings for the State Legislature were built to flank the Capitol and State Office Building. As a result, space was created for an alluring square plaza. These buildings and the classical plaza between them were an important aspect of the plans drawn by Kletting which did not see completion initially.

Olmsted’s and Kletting’s ideas were heavily influenced by the City Beautiful Movement which drew heavily from Frederick Olmsted’s ideas exhibited in the Columbian Exposition of 1890. These elements were reincorporated into the Master Plan for the restoration of the Capitol and its grounds. Utah’s Capitol Hill now appears remarkably close to what its original designers intended. Their ideas, born at the turn of the century, were resurrected by the Capitol’s modern architects and their magnificent reification was made possible by hundreds of skilled craftsman. Moreover, many of their ideas provided solutions to modern problems.

The Capitol Preservation Board is honored to have received this distinguished award. This award, along with many that have preceded it, was made possible by the numberless hours of hardwork, planning, and craftsmanship contributed by everyone involved in the project.

U.S.S. Utah Exhibit to open at the Utah State Capitol

Today the first special exhibit opened in the Capitol since its restoration. The exhibit is on the U.S.S. Utah and will be inside the Capitol from today until December 7, 2009. It is the first of its type since the re-opening of the Capitol in January of 2008. It also marks the U.S.S. Utah’s 100th anniversary year. The Capitol Preservation Board staff, the Fort Douglas Military Museum, Ancestry.com, and other interested individuals have made the exhibit possible.

Here is a more detailed explanation of the exhibit:

The original design of the Capitol included gallery space for exhibitions mounted by the Utah Art Institute. The law governing the Institute was a bill referred to simply as the Art Bill of 1899. Written and sponsored by Alice Merrill Horne, the bill created a mechanism, the first in the country, for sponsoring arts education in schools. It also made provision for sponsoring artists in Utah by purchasing and exhibiting the visual arts. The galleries on the Fourth Floor were designed, together with a Board Room, for the Art Institute. As part of the renovation of the Capitol, the Fourth Floor Galleries will feature rotating exhibits, some curated by the Capitol
Preservation Board Office staff, some by visiting and collaborating museums and individuals. All exhibits will feature educator materials for pre- and post-visit (as well as classroom) activities for 4th and 7th graders whose curricula includes Utah History and Civics. This exhibit opens that program.