Should the Civil War remain so dominant?

We find Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to be an interesting character. He played art critic this week at the state Capitol, where there are Civil War battle murals in the stately Reception Room in his office suite. The governor holds press conferences; hosts groups and important gatherings; and meets with his Cabinet and state lawmakers in the room. Dayton seemed to be suggesting the murals are too dated, not representing modern Minnesota or its future.

We’re not sure anyone else would have broached this topic. The Capitol was built at a time (1906) when the Civil War remained a defining event. But it is fair to say that with each passing year, this is less and less true. And given the current renovation plans at the Capitol, maybe some change is in order.

What Dayton has in mind isn’t clear. But one can imagine new murals, perhaps depicting the things that make Minnesota great:?agriculture, the outdoors, our appreciation of the arts, industry that has had an impact worldwide, an educational system that generally earns high praise, etc.

We believe the governor is on to something. We appreciate history and the state’s role in the Civil War, but it need not be the defining feature of such a public space in the governor’s office. Surely, those fine murals can be preserved somewhere else. Perhaps at the nearby Minnesota History Center? We believe the Capitol Preservation Commission should take Dayton’s musings seriously.