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University of Missouri

Frieze Frames

Models of the Missouri State Capitol friezes hang in Jesse Hall.

Walk along the third-floor cortile in Jesse Hall, and you’ll be transported back in time. The walls feature plaster copies of friezes on the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. John Pickard, MU professor and president of the Capitol Decoration Commission from 1917 to 1928, acquired the molds of the carvings.

Missouri state capitol frieze

Show-Me State
In a scene depicting the admission of Missouri into the Union in 1821, the federal proclamation is read and citizens celebrate.

Missouri state capitol frieze

Mizzou’s Bedrock
This panel illustrates the laying of the cornerstone of Academic Hall at the University of Missouri in Columbia July 4, 1840.

Missouri state capitol frieze

Primitive Man
This panel of a man grappling with a bear represents the supremacy of the human race.

North Side
American sculptor Hermon A. MacNeil built the north frieze from 1924 to 1927. Facing the Missouri River, this scene shows the changing of civilization from the old order to the new. One panel, titled Missouri Welcoming the Culture from the East, depicts the arrival of philosophy, music, science, agriculture and architecture. Another, The Grand Motive, shows the balance of discovery, truth and equality with the enjoyment of material things.

Missouri state capitol friezes

South Side
Built from 1923 to 1926 by American sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder, best known for his George Washington as President on the Washington Square Arch in New York, the Capitol’s south frieze depicts the history of Missouri. Six feet tall and 138 feet wide, the panels portray 13 scenes, including the founding of St. Louis by French explorer Pierre Laclede, the transfer of Louisiana to the U.S., and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Missouri state capitol

Capitol Decoration Commission
When the Capitol was completed in 1917, money remaining in the Capitol Tax Fund went toward decorating the building, including the construction of the friezes.