Exhibits and Collections

Things to see and do at the Capitol

Current Exhibit

Building a Legacy: 150 Years of the California State Capitol

Finding a permanent home for the capital was crucial for Californians in order to solidify the state’s stability in the nation. Over the past 150 years, both the location of the “seat of government” and the design of the structure were constantly in flux.

This exhibit opened March 20, 2019 and runs through March 2021.

Photo of the Legacy exhibit, painters working on the capitol

Permanent Collections

Historic Rooms

The Capitol’s Historic Rooms have been preserved to bring the rich history of those eras to patrons who visit the Capitol.

Capitol Park Interests

Capitol Park

Special points of interest, memorials, and monuments are tastefully incorporated into Capitol Park to remind us of our history and natural beauty.

Wall of governor portraits

Portraits

The commissioning of portraits of former governors began in 1879, and those portraits are on display all throughout the Capitol, along with Washington and Lincoln portraits in the Senate and Assembly, respectively.

Statues

Today, only the statuary on the west front pediment tympanum (the recessed space enclosed by the triangular pediment) is original. These statues reflect the Capitol’s roots in Greek architecture. In Grecian times, statuary was considered part of the building, not as mere decoration.

Murals

The Capitol is home to two stunning murals. The Mathews Mural, a 1914 depiction of California’s past, present, and future, was created for the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition.

Past Exhibits

Museum staff create a special exhibit each year detailing a portion of the State’s history.  The following are special exhibits from previous years. Even though they are no longer viewable at the Capitol, much of the information is still available online.

The Road Ahead: The Automobiles Impact on CA

Since 1898, the automobile has helped to shape and define the California way of life, creating what has been called the world’s first “auto-civilization.”

Out of the Vault: Treasures from Your CA State Library

From the beginning of recorded history, libraries have served as the constant companion of civilization. The California State Library has made important contributions to the Golden State’s own, unique civilization.

Called to Action: California’s Role in WWII

World War II brought monumental changes to the Golden State, change as had not been seen since 1848. After the Gold Rush, the next most transformative event in California’s history was “the War.”

California Invites the World: 1915 Panama Pacific International Exhibition

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were the golden age for the great world’s fair expositions. The 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) was no exception.

The Dust Bowl, California, and the Politics of Hard Times

This exhibit examined the cultural, social, and political impact the Dust Bowl migrants had on California.

Thomas Starr King

Thomas Starr King

This exhibit examined the life, legacy and impact that Thomas Starr King had on California.