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When the capitol building was being built, Michigan has a limited budget of $1.2 million. Those in charge of its construction insisted that it be designed and constructed within this budget. The materials were not indigenous to Michigan but were the best quality available for the price at the time. The hallway on the first floor is made of Vermont marble and contains interesting fossils. The marble columns are actually painted columns designed to fool the eye. The wooden doors are actually painted to look like walnut. The artisans who originally painted the interior of this building came from around the world. Instead of looking like a poor replica of the real materials, the building is rich and opulent looking. The capitol dome is a smaller version of that found in Washington. It is actually a dome within a dome. Visitors are encouraged to lay down on the floor beneath the dome to view the full beauty of the dome.
The House of Representatives and Senate have been restored to its original splendor. In the middle 20th century these rooms were painted white and lacked architectural detail or interest. The white paint was peeled away to reveal rich opulent colors and granduer fitting a state containing lakes that are known world wide as Great! Admission to the Capitol and the tour are free.
A visit to the State Capitol should be followed by a tour of the Michigan Historical Museum located in the State of Michigan Library (approximately 2 blocks west of the Capitol building). Visitors from other areas of the country will learn the rich history of the state of Michigan starting with its roots in lumber and fur trading state to its dominant position in the manufacture of automobiles. The exhibits are interactive with movies shown in various areas of the museum. Favorites of children visiting the museum are the self-propelled cart that rides along the plank road, the mining area and the great examples of life in Michigan from the 1800s to the 1950s. Admission to the museum is free.
The RE Olds Museum, also located in Lansing, is a fitting tribute to the man and the General Motors Division named in his honor, Oldsmobile. At one time an Oldsmobile engine in a car meant speed and reliability. At one time over 1,000,000 Oldsmobiles were sold in a single year. Now the Oldsmobile name has disappeared from the automotive market, but the history and beauty of this respected name is alive and well in this interesting and fun museum.
The Impressions 5 Science Museum is another favorite of children. Children love the interactive exhibits. While it is smaller in size than science museums found in larger cities, it offers a wonderful range of exhibits to keep children entertained and learning.
A visit to the Lansing area is not complete without a visit to Michigan State University in East Lansing. There are many things to do and see at MSU. Beginning at the Student Union at the Abott Road entrance to the university, proceed toward the Red Cedar River. Beaumont Tower is one of the most frequently photographed sites at the school. It's bells may be heard throughout the huge campus. The Michigan State University Museum, located nearby, houses exhibits ranging from dinosaurs to historic artifacts about Michigan. Proceed to the Library. Next to the library may be found the first section of many botanical gardens. Michigan State University began as an agricultural school. The botanical gardens demonstrate the agriculture continues to play an important role for this university. The Red Cedar river is located next to the Botanical Gardens and library. The rapids in front of the Library and Administration building is the home to the famous MSU ducks. Families and students spend much time enjoying these ducks and feeding them at his location. Further down the river canoes may be rented for a leisurely ride on the river. Along the river and throughout the university may be found miles of bike trails. The vastness of the university makes bike travel a good and logical transportation option. Further along the river is the International House includes a book store and is home to many of the international programs offered at the University. Once a visitor reaches the School of Education, turn right (south). Approximately 150 yards south on the left is the Planetarium. Consult the university website for shows and times. Further south is the dairy store. Again, this store pays tribute to the agricultural heritage of the school. Some of the best ice cream in the area is found at the dairy store. The Children's Gardens are located further south and are a worthwhile place to visit. For the sports enthusiast a tour of Breslin Center (basketball), Munn Arena (hockey) and Spartan Stadium are in order.