The state Capitol is more than a government building. It also contains a treasure of art and is a popular tourist attraction.
Murals, paintings and statues depicting events and characters in Oklahoma's history are displayed throughout the building.
On the first floor, in the west gallery, various works are displayed showing a visual anthology of the history of artistic expression in the state. The complete collection consists of more than 100 works of art by Oklahoma artists.
The Capitol is a popular attraction for tourists and students, said Leslie Blair, a spokeswoman with the state Tourism and Recreation Department.
About 15,200 students toured the Capitol last year as part of school field trips, she said.
"With all the art that's in the rotunda and in the halls, it's also a big draw," Blair said. "There are also people who just visit state capitols."
The Capitol building, 2300 N Lincoln Blvd., has served as the state's seat of government for nearly 100 years.
Oklahoma City wasn't the initial capital city. Guthrie, about 30 miles to the north, was the territorial capital and tried to retain its role as the state's capital city after Oklahoma became a state in 1907.
Residents in a statewide election and legislators in 1910 declared Oklahoma City the permanent state capital.
Planning for the construction of a building followed, and groundbreaking ceremonies were July 29, 1914. The building was ready for occupancy three years later when construction was completed, June 30, 1917.
The Capitol's exterior is Indiana limestone with a base of pink granite quarried from the southern Oklahoma town of Troy. Floors throughout the building are made of Alabama marble; Vermont marble is used on wall bases and stairways.
When the Capitol was completed, the final construction cost was $1.5 million, or about 21 cents per square foot. Constructing a similar building today would cost nearly $160 million, or about $350 per square foot, said John Morrison, state construction administrator for the Central Services Department's construction and properties division.
The building has about 450,000 square feet of usable floor space and contains about 650 rooms. It is nestled on 15 acres.
The original designs called for a dome to be built on the Capitol, but the United States entered World War I about two months before the building was completed. The plan was to wait until after the conflict to add the dome, but when the war ended in 1918, shortages in materials caused prices to skyrocket. The cost of constructing the dome by war's end was estimated to have been nearly the amount of the Capitol building.
In 1999, state officials, looking ahead to the state's centennial several years away, began a fundraising campaign to build a dome. A combination of private and public money was used to pay for the $20 million dome. It was dedicated on Statehood Day, Nov. 16, 2002.
The House of Representatives and Senate chambers were restored and renovated in the 1990s. The House chamber was restored in 1999 and the Senate chamber was restored in 1993.
The Capitol contains offices for each of the 149 legislators — 101 House members and 48 senators — and staff members.
The governor's office is on the second floor. The lieutenant governor, state treasurer and state auditor and inspector also have offices in the Capitol.
It also contains the offices of the secretary of state, the state Ethics Commission, the state Election Board and the state finance office.
The Oklahoma appellate courts are also in the Capitol. They are scheduled to move in 2011 to a building southeast of the Capitol. The Oklahoma Supreme Court chamber on the Capitol's second floor will continue to be held for ceremonial events. Preliminary plans call for the rest of the judicial space to be converted to legislative offices and meeting rooms.
The Capitol displays more than $4 million worth of art, including a series of four murals above the fourth-floor rotunda, which give a history of Oklahoma, such as Coronado's 1541 exploration of the land, the forced immigration of American Indian tribes into the territory and the rush for land by settlers.
Life-size portraits are displayed on the fourth-floor rotunda alcove. They depict humorist Will Rogers, Cherokee syllabary inventor Sequoyah, Robert S. Kerr, a former U.S. senator and governor, and Olympian Jim Thorpe.
Murals depicting industries that shaped Oklahoma's growth are displayed over the entrances to the legislative chambers on the fourth floor. A mural honoring the state's oil and gas industry hangs above the entrance to the Senate and a mural featuring images that represent the agriculture industry hangs above the House entrance.
In addition to the permanent art collection, a rotating series of public art exhibits showcasing Oklahoma artists and photographers are displayed on the first and second floors.
A visitors' center is on the first floor. Visitors may tour the building on their own or they can take guided tours, which are at 9, 10 and 11 a.m. and 1, 2 and 3 p.m. on weekdays. The visitors' center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
The Capitol is open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends and holidays. On holidays and weekends, all visitors must use the west entrance.