The California State Capitol Museum serves as both the state’s working seat of government and a museum. Home to the California State Legislature since 1869, the California State Capitol Museum is made up of a museum and beautifully manicured grounds and gardens in Sacramento and has been a property in the California state park system since 1982.
The heart of the California State Capitol Museum is based on the basement and the first floor of the original part of the building, even though the whole building is considered a museum. The basement of the Museum is home to the tour office where tickets can be purchased for museum tours, a small theater that presents several short films on the history of the Capitol, and a gift shop that sells a variety of Museum-related books, items, and gifts. This floor is also home to the famous mural known as the ‘History of California’ by artist, Arthur Mathews.
The first floor of the Museum features the restored principal offices of the Treasurer, the Secretary of State and the Governor of California, and two rotating exhibit rooms, which visitors can explore on self-guided and guided tours when. The central rotunda of the building houses a marble statue of Columbus appealing to Queen Isabella, by artist and sculpture Larkin Mead.
The California State Capitol Museum is surrounded by 40 acres of beautifully manicured and maintained gardens and grounds known as Capitol Park, which includes more than 1,100 trees and a variety of shrubs from all around the world.
The gardens are also home to more than 150 memorials to people of importance and significant events involving California, along with other points of interest such as tributes and great walks. These include The Earl Warren Walk, which is dedicated to the former Governor and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the El Soldado Tribute to Mexican American Soldiers of World War II, and the California Peace Officer's Memorial, honoring those who have died in the line of duty and those they left behind.
Notable points of interest include the Great Seal of the State of California on the west steps, the Capitol Cornerstone near the north entrance, the Apollo Moon Tree, which was carried to the moon during the 1971 mission by Pilot Stuart Roosa, and the California Civil War Veterans plaque at the east entrance.
The Pioneer Camellia Grove can be found between 11th and 12th streets and is a tribute to the pioneers of Sacramento, while the Senator Capitol Kitty Memorial honors the Park’s most beloved feline resident. The Civil War Memorial Grove features trees found on famous Civil War battlefields and planted as saplings in 1897, within which stands a memorial to the Reverend Thomas Starr King.
There are several bells within the park, namely the El Camino Real Commemorative Bell, the ship bell from the USS California which was sunk at Pearl Harbor, and a reproduction of the Liberty Bell. Other interesting points between 11th and 12th streets include the Spanish War Veterans Memorial, also known as ‘The Hiker,’ and the World War I Memorial Trees, planted to honor the first California soldier to die in the war.
The section of the Park between 13th and 14th streets features an insectary that was built as a research facility in 1908, and the Californian Firefighters Memorial to honor fallen firefighters. The California Veterans Memorial honors California Veterans from various wars including the Civil War, both World War I and II and the Vietnam War, among others. There is also the Purple Heart Monument that honors those who fell in these wars.
The final section of the Park between 14th and 15th streets is home to the California Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, the World Peace Rose Garden with more than 650 roses in over 140 varieties of colors and fragrances, and the California Native Plant Section that features flora native to the state.
The California State Capitol Museum is open to the public on weekdays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and weekends from 9:00 am to 5: 00 pm and admission to the Museum is free. The Museum offers free guided school and group tours by reservation only, as well as public tours that are conducted on the hour. The Basement Theater presents short films on the history of the Capitol between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm daily.
1315 10th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, website, Phone: 916-324-0333
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