A Summer Evening at the Capitol

Now that the evenings are getting warmer and it is staying light longer, it’s time for an evening stroll. What could be better than strolling the sidewalks around the four-square-block grounds of the Nebraska State Capitol and viewing the building in all its architectural beauty. An exterior tour of the Capitol’s art and architecture has been developed for use on smartphones and tablets.


While the interior of Nebraska’s Capitol is known for spectacular floor and ceiling mosaics, a collaboration of thematic consultant Hartley Burr Alexander and Hildreth Meiere, the exterior collaboration of sculptor Lee Lawrie and Alexander is less well known. Together they recreated four thousand years of western civilization in relief sculpture. In addition to the political history represented on the Indiana limestone façade, Lawrie provides a lesson in art history, using the sculptural style of the period of the historical event. Use the new on-line tour to appreciate the exterior’s beauty and symbolism, begin on the north, follow the tour to the west and on around the building, finishing on the north. Weather permitting, the north plaza and promenade are open sunrise to sunset for up close viewing of the sculpture. But the architectural detail and sculpture is best seen from the sidewalks around the Capitol. After dark when the grounds and promenade are closed but the public sidewalks open, the architectural detail of the building is enhanced by the shadows caused by the raking artificial light illuminating the tower, proper timing will allow an evening walk to include the Capitol with the setting sun shining on the west façade and then the tower dramatically geometric in the artificial light. On a hot summer night while strolling around the Capitol imagine the heat of the 1930’s dust bowl days and Lincolnites sleeping on the lawn of the new Capitol to escape the heat in the surrounding apartments. The Capitol’s exterior is a window into history of civilizations past and more recent times.