Michigan Capitol Visit: Classroom Materials Available

Michigan Time Traveler - Mystery of the Muses

Throughout the year, students from across Michigan visit the State Capitol in Lansing. Awaiting them is a trained Capitol guide who provides an informative and engaging tour of Michigan’s historic seat of government. One of the tour stops is the soaring rotunda at the heart of the Capitol building. There students can view firsthand the eight muses of the Italian artist Tommaso Juglaris which crown the inner dome. The original mystery surrounding the painting and installation of the muses is usually highlighted by the guide. However, as part of preparations for a pending Capitol visit, classroom teachers may also want to share with their students the broader story of how the eight “painted ladies” found their way to the Capitol dome and how they continue to “speak” to us today, using information available through this website.

At the time of an international exhibition of Juglaris’s paintings at the Michigan Historical Center in Lansing in 2004-2005, the museum staff partnered with Lansing Newspapers in Education, Inc., and the Lansing State Journal to publish a color-illustrated Michigan Time Traveler educational supplement for students. Accompanied by a Teacher’s Guide, it not only explores the special history behind the Michigan Capitol muses, but also the enduring contributions that immigrants like artist Tommaso Juglaris have made to America, plus the significance of the different symbols incorporated by each muse portrait that can help us decipher what she is meant to represent. Putting on their hats as sleuths, students often enjoy trying to identify each muse based upon whatever they are wearing and holding, as well as items that appear in either the foreground or background. Links to Michigan Time Traveler and the Teacher’s Guide are provided. Although (touching on a small point of controversy) these materials present the Muse of Philosophy as the Muse of Law, they otherwise remain helpful and relevant as classroom resources.

Also linked below are full page color images of each Michigan Capitol muse that can be downloaded for classroom presentation and discussion. A separate interpretative guide for each muse is provided at the bottom of this page.