Emily Litjens painting in the East Wing
Emily Litjens painting in the East Wing

When the original Minnesota State Capitol was opened to the public in 1905, it included modern marvels such as gorgeous marble white exteriors and state-of-the-art technology of the time: electrical lamps. One major thing that was missing from every part of the Capitol, however, was women. There were no women involved in the planning process, on the construction site, and there was even an absence of women's restrooms because only men were serving in the legislature.

Over a century later, the crews are finishing up a huge restoration project and everyone agrees could not have happened without women. One of the women involved, Emily Litjens ’01, is a Milwaukee-based painter who returned to the Twin Cities to help restore the decorative painting that graces every corner of the building. Whether the paintings were damaged or dulled from age, Litjens was up to the task of making them look new again, even though working on something over one hundred years old was, she said, "a bit daunting." 

"You were working in these areas where you don't understand the grand scale of the building. Now when you walk in, it just wows." —Litjens

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