A perfect example of the Greek Renaissance movement in architecture, the Montana state capitol building is not only one of the major landmarks of the beautiful capitol city of Helena, but also the hub of government affairs for all of the state of Montana. Completed in the year 1902, and then expanded further during the years 1909 through 1912 to accommodate the growing demands of the state government, the capitol building itself is faced with a combination of sandstone and premium Montana granite. A striking copper dome is the finishing touch to the building's classically attractive design.
Many areas within the state capitol building in Helena are open to the general public year round and guided tours are given on Saturdays according to a set schedule that differs according to the season. However, self-guided tours are also an option all days of the week except for Sunday. Informative booklets are available on demand from the information desk to help tourists and visitors find their way around and make sure they hit all the key points of interest during their stay.
Upon first entering the building, visitors will find themselves within a vast rotunda - naturally the curved interior of the impressive copper dome seen from outside. It is beautifully decorated with majestic columns and striking painted works of art. The paintings were created in 1902 to showcase and honor the four distinct types of historical people that made the state of Montana everything that it is - the Native American, the gold miner, the cowboy, and the explorer.
Straight ahead of the entrance the Grand Stairway can be seen, which leads up to a beautiful stained glass window - one of many visitors can expect to enjoy during their tour - while to either side of the main rotunda are two long hallways, one leading to the Secretary of State's office and the other to the Governor's office.
The areas visitors to the capitol building will have the option to tour include not only this main rotunda, but also the Old Law Library, the Governor's office, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the Gallery of Outstanding Montanans, and more. Throughout their tour, visitors will also be treated to viewings of many incredible, important, and famous works of art as well - one of the primary draws of the building. These include not only paintings and photographs, but also monumental stained glass windows as well.
One of the key pieces to be seen within the capitol building is 25 foot x 12 foot painting by the legendary Montana artist C.M. Russell called Lewis and Clark Meeting Indians at Ross's Hole. The canvas on which the colossal work of art was painted was so huge that Russell actually had to have the roof of his studio raised in order to accommodate it. The painting itself depicts the historic scene in which the famous pair asked the Salish Indians of Montana to show them the safest route to the Pacific Ocean from the mountains.
Many history buffs and art enthusiasts alike flock to the capitol building just to see this famous painting. It can be found hanging in the chamber of the House of Representatives just about the chair set aside for the Speaker of the House.