The Old Capitol building on the University of Iowa campus is about to be reopened to the public. The Old Capitol was being renovated in 2001 when an accidental fire destroyed the 160-year-old cupola, dome and bell. University spokeswoman Linzee McCray says renovations are now complete.

She says two new galleries will open on the ground floor when the building once again welcomes visitors, an Iowa Humanities Gallery with exhibitions about the state’s history, culture and University research, and the Discovery Center which will have exhibitions about immigration and Iowa’s population.

McCray says the first thing visitors may notice will be some new colors. The Old Capitol building used to be a kind of off-white inside, but she says new colors are more “historically accurate” and beautiful and they give the building an entirely different feel. Rooms are decorated in vibrant blue, yellow and scarlet colors, and the inside of the dome over the center hallway will be blue.

Organizers want the Old Capitol to be a center of learning about the past and future of Iowa. The exhibit there right now is a children’s diary project, which shows a selection of entries from children in the past and the present.

Highlights of the building, located on the University of Iowa campus, include a reverse-spiral staircase, a 650-pound crystal and brass chandelier in the senate chamber, and the blue inner dome. Those and the new exhibitions will be featured with lots of special events during the grand re-opening May sixth.