Civil War paintings returning to Minnesota Capitol

'The Battle of Nashville'
"The Battle of Nashville," c. 1906, by Howard Pyle.
Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society

Updated 2:25 p.m. | Posted 1:56 p.m.

Four large paintings depicting Minnesotans in the Civil War will return to the Governor's Reception Room when the Capitol reopens, officials said Thursday.

The decision by a Minnesota Historical Society panel ends what had been a skirmish over whose Minnesota history should be prominently displayed at the Capitol.

Tensions flared last week when Gov. Mark Dayton stormed out of a meeting, accusing Republicans of distorting his position on relocating the paintings for political gain.

Dayton had recently suggested that those paintings — commissioned by the Capitol's famed architect, Cass Gilbert — should be replaced with "more welcoming" art that represents the "full complexion" of state history. House Republican leaders insisted the art should remain in the intended locations.

Following the Thursday vote, the governor released a statement saying he accepted the decision.

Besides the four Governor's Reception Room paintings, the panel agreed that two other Civil War paintings will also be rehung in the Governor's Anteroom. Reinstallation could occur in the next month or so, a historical society official said. There was very little debate on Thursday. No one voiced opposition to returning the Civil War painting to its original places.

The Civil War paintings, as well as several other large controversial paintings depicting Minnesota's relations with Native Americans, had been removed from the Capitol as part of the building's massive renovation.

In October, the historical society panel agreed that two of the most controversial paintings involving Indians should be relocated elsewhere in the Capitol and include more contextual interpretation. Those were: "Father Hennepin at the Falls of St. Anthony" and "The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux."

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