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Task Force Mulls Capitol Art Layout After Building Remodel

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The massive renovation of the Minnesota Capitol has opened a new discussion topic: how much and what kind of art to put on the walls and statues placed in building corridors when the project is complete.

A task force mulling that topic met Monday to start sorting out the art layout, with a goal of reporting back to the Capitol Preservation Commission in January.

Members said they will debate whether to introduce modern pieces to a Capitol heavy in its Civil War-era paintings and whether to scale back display of gubernatorial portraits.

"The paintings in the Capitol tell the story of our history," said task force member Dean Urdahl, a Republican legislator and history buff from Grove City. "There has been a lot of history since the last painting was affixed."

Panel chairwoman Diane Loeffler, a Democratic legislator from Minneapolis, said there could be recommendations to rotate in new artwork instead of having everything be a permanent fixture. She broached the idea of limiting the number of gubernatorial portraits that can appear on the walls at one time, noting that they have grown in number and size.

"Is this the most important use of wall space moving forward from here to eternity?" Loeffler asked rhetorically. The topic was put on hold until a future meeting.

There's also talk of making room for performance art. And one member, former Supreme Court Justice Paul Anderson, said it is an ideal time to explore high-tech art elements, such as a possible hologram of Capitol architect Cass Gilbert offering a virtual greeting and key facts about the Capitol.

Minnesota lawmakers have approved roughly $300 million to upgrade the interior and exterior of the 110-year-old Capitol. The renovation project isn't due to be finished until 2017, with the building closed entirely when lawmakers aren't in legislative session.

The prior appropriations include money for conservation and touch-up of existing art pieces, including the massive murals overlooking the Rotunda and other public spaces. Loeffler said lawmakers would have to come up with more money to obtain new pieces, but also could opt to put temporary art on display from Minnesota students or State Fair contest winners.

(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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