• Mathews Murals
  • WPA Murals

The Capitol is home to two stunning murals, one is a 1914 depiction of California's past, present and future, the other depicts the origin of the state's naming.

In 1913, the California State Legislature appropriated $10,000 to decorate the Capitol rotunda as part of a trend to bring art and history to the building. Arthur F. Mathews, a prominent San Francisco artist, was given the commission to create a series of murals that would depict the historical periods of California. Mathews completed twelve murals in four sets of three (triptychs) in time for the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition.

The murals are an excellent example of a regional artistic style known as "California Decorative." Arthur and his wife Lucia Kleinhans Mathews combined a romantic classicism and idealism with a Renaissance color palette and California imagery to create this distinctive style. We have included Mathews' own words and interpretations of the murals for context and to illuminate his era's distinctive interpretation of California history. Mathews chose to describe the four epochs and the panels within them in flourishes of language typical to his era.

Mathews' 12 murals were displayed in the first floor rotunda until the beginning of the Capitol's restoration project in 1976. At that time, the murals were removed and conserved. In 1981, they were installed in the basement rotunda to better preserve the original appearance of the first floor rotunda. This installation safeguarded an historic piece of art for California and its Capitol.

California, Flags, Beauty and History

The Lucile Lloyd Mural, The Origin and Development of the Name of the State of California, is permanently installed in the John L. Burton Hearing Room behind the dais.

On October 16, 1937, three murals painted by Lucile Lloyd were unveiled at the State Building in Los Angeles. Commissioned specifically for the building through a Great Depression-era program (the WPA), they remained on view for 38 years. The building was torn down for safety reasons in 1975. Fortunately the murals were saved, and in 1991 the Senate Rules Committee had them restored and installed in the California Room, recently rededicated the John L. Burton Hearing Room in honor of former Senate President pro tempore John Burton.

In a sweeping panorama, the three panels tell the history of the name of California. The two side panels portray important flags that have flown over the state. The central panel shows the history and development of the state through the Spanish Mexican and American eras. Realistic figures trace the state’s history and vivid images illustrate the state’s unique natural beauty and resources.

Visit The Museum

California State Capitol Museum
10th and L Streets
State Capitol
Room B-27
1315 10th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 324-0333
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Weekdays 8 am - 5 pm
Weekends 9 am - 5 pm
Admission is free
Tours available hourly 9 am - 4 pm
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