An abstract copper sculpture in a marble hallway.

Artworks made of original Capitol dome copper installed back in the Capitol 

In 1980, a powerful windstorm with gusts of up to 70 mph caused segments of the Utah Capitol dome’s original copper cladding to fly off, and much of the copper that remained was damaged. The copper cover was then replaced. Seeing the recovered material as an opportunity, the state held an art competition to use the salvaged material. Governor Scott M. Matheson, along with members of the Utah Arts Council (now the Division of Arts & Museums) and Division of Facilities and Construction Management, formed the Copper Dome Committee. They selected three artists, who had their works unveiled in 1982. Recently, the Capitol Preservation Board, with help from our agency, coordinated reinstalling two of these artworks at the Capitol and funded the wall displays.   

Contrast, Hard and Soft
Maggie Harrison
Copper and wool
State of Utah Alice Merrill Horne Art Collection

Artist Maggie Harrison shared with the Logan Herald Journal, “I propose to use the copper in three stages of oxidation. I want to use it to express opposition, and, at the same time, harmony.” The copper was folded at the top and below, cut, and spiraled to form coils. The lower portion’s hand-spun and hand-dyed woven wool yarn drapes upward into the spiral. Said Harrison, “The copper represents control, the intellectual. The wool represents spontaneous change.” 

Thomas Schulte
Copper and aluminum
State of Utah Alice Merrill Horne Art Collection

Artist Thomas Schulte created a relief sculpture with an abstraction of the word “UTAH.” He intended the sculpture to be installed slightly away from the wall, as seen here, to maximize the shadows and forms that its 69 surfaces would create when interacting with light. 

“It is such a pleasure to see these works restored and back at the Utah State Capitol. I love how artists can take materials that others might toss into the refuse bin and create thoughtful and inspiring works of art. Reading Maggie Harrison’s artist statement helps me recognize how, with thoughtful control, we learn to manage the constant change in our world and in our lives. I hope others will take time to reflect on these works of art,” noted Vicki Bourns, director of the Utah Division of Arts and Museums.

Photographs and text additions courtesy of the Capitol Preservation Board.

People hang a copper sculpture on a marble wall.
People hang a fabric artwork on a marble wall.
An abstract copper sculpture.
A fabric artwork hanging on a marble wall.