Capitol rotunda reopens to visitors after months of renovations

You may think nothing gets done in Washington, but there was progress at the Capitol today. The great rotunda reopened after a 13-month, $97 million project to save the Capitol Dome.

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The Capitol dome has been covered in scaffolding, both inside and out, to make hundreds of repairs to the structure.

CBS News

Video from the beginning of the project more than one year ago shows when scaffolding and drapery went up in order to restore ironwork, install lighting and repaint fading frescoes.

Stephen Ayres, the architect of the Capitol, is the head of the restoration project. He took “60 Minutes” to the top of the dome before work began.

The dome was built of cast iron, a high-tech material for the 1860s. But 150 years later, pieces were falling and the structure had more than 1,300 cracks.

“It looks magnificent and beautiful from the ground but when you get up close there’s rust all over it and broken pieces. Some of these are big 60, 80 pound pieces of decoration and ornamentation,” Ayers said.

The dome was covered in scaffolding and the cracks were sewn together. The remainder of the scaffold is to be removed by Inauguration Day, this January.

  • Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"