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Your chariot no longer awaits: Capitol statue removed for repair

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One of the signature features adorning the exterior of the Minnesota State Capitol will be removed this week.

MPR News reports that a crane will take down the gold sculpture of a chariot pulled by four horses on Tuesday morning. The statue, which sits on the south portico above the main entrance to the building, will have corrosion on the statue's base removed. It will also be re-gilded.

According to the Minnesota Historical Society, the gold-leafed copper and steel statuary group, called "Progress of the State," was sculpted by Daniel Chester French, whose most famous work is the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Edward Potter, a noted sculptor of animals, modeled the horses. The sculpture was placed on the Capitol in 1906.

"The four horses represent the power of nature: earth, wind, fire and water. The women symbolize civilization and the man standing on the chariot represents prosperity," the website said.

The repair work is part of the extensive $272 million dollar, three-year renovation project underway at the State Capitol. The governor's office, the state attorney general's office, legislative offices and others have been moved from the Capitol as the work progresses.

Earlier this summer, the Pioneer Press reported that construction workers had begun breaking up and removing tiles and concrete from the roof near the golden chariot.

Parts of the building are inaccessible to the public while the work is ongoing. The Rotunda is enclosed, and the statues of Civil War generals on the second-floor balcony are wrapped in plastic for protection.

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