The Kentucky State Capitol boasts an impressive collection of public art, starting with the Capitol building itself. Dedicated in 1910, the Capitol combines elements of classical Greek architecture with highly ornate French styling in a Beaux Arts style. The pediment of the front portico, designed by Charles Niehaus, is richly sculpted with allegorical figures. The central female figure represents Kentucky, and she is surrounded by her attendants: Progress, History, Plenty, Law, Art, and Labor.
Niehaus also created two of the statues that make up the Rotunda Statuary, the statues of statesman, Henry Clay, and Ephraim McDowell, a frontier physician. These two statues are actually painted plaster models for the bronze cast statues that represent Kentucky in the United States Statuary Hall. The statue of Abraham Lincoln was the first one installed in the rotunda, donated in 1912 by J.B. Speed of Louisville. The statue of Jefferson Davis was carved of Tennessee marble and installed in 1933, and the bronze statue of Alben Barkely, 35th vice president of the United States, was installed in 1968.
When the Capitol was constructed, space for murals was provided in the pendentives, the reverse triangular spaces right below the dome, but the murals were not completed until 2010 -- 100 years later. The four pendentive murals inside the dome reflect the range of diversity, professions, landmarks, architecture and culture that comprises the rich social fabric of Kentucky’s past and present, as well as the unique landscapes of Commonwealth’s distinctive regions.