September 27, 2008

Images of Wisconsin: State Capitol

Following are a number of pictures taken of, and in, Wisconsin's impressive state capitol. As we learned this morning, a "capitol" refers to the building in which a government conducts its business, a "capital" is the geographic area designated for such business to take place. Thus, Madison is the capital of Wisconsin, and in that city you will find the capitol, which is what these pictures are of.

The gold statue atop the dome is an allegorical sculpture of Wisconsin, in a pose intended to embody the state's motto, "Forward." Atop the entrance to the State Assembly gallery is a guardian spirit in the form of a badger, the state's mascot animal. The capitol physical plant is remarkable in that when the legislature is not in session, tourists like us are permitted to simply walk on to the floor of the legislative chambers and wander about the various desks and caucus rooms. I was particularly impressed with Tiffany-style glass skylights illuminating the Senate and Assembly chambers. There are also no metal detectors or other security screens; you just walk right in off the street like you own the place. The Wisconsin Supreme Court chambers are also in the building.

The building is larger and accommodates more legislative and governmental offices within itself, reducing the need for adjunct buildings, despite having a larger legislative body (100 Assemblymembers and 33 Senators, compared to 80 and 40, respectively, in California) which leaves my the overall impression that Wisconsin's capital is better-suited for its purpose -- housing the business of state government, and impressing visitors with the wealth and power of the state -- than California's.

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