RALEIGH, N.C. -- A new exhibit at the North Carolina State Capitol explores how government worked in the 19th century when the building housed all three branches of government. Checks and Balances: How Government Works is an exhibit that delves into the composition and operation of the state’s leadership. The exhibit opens Oct. 9, 2009, and remains on display through Jan.19, 2010.
Checks and Balances begins with a simple premise: how would government look to a relative newcomer? Meet young George, a page to the 1874 House of Representatives. In this new exhibit, visitors can join George as he learns how government worked at the State Capitol.
Written to engage children and adults alike, the organization of state government is explained from the fictional page’s point of view. Throughout the exhibit, George will discover how the Capitol functioned during Gov. Curtis Brogden’s administration.
George will introduce the fundamentals of North Carolina’s government, which remain largely unchanged from the 1870s, while some labels will explore how government is run differently today. The young page will investigate aspects of North Carolina’s government that may surprise some visitors, such as what the duties of the Sergeant-at-Arms entail or exactly how a bill becomes law in North Carolina.
Many stations will pose questions to provoke visitors into thinking about core concepts of state administration, while other panels will present trivia segments highlighting interesting facts about North Carolina government. For example, in the 1870s (when George is telling his story), the governor did not have veto power and could not serve a consecutive term. Each of these factors changed while Gov. Jim Hunt was in office; in 1980 Hunt became the first governor elected to a second consecutive term, and in 1996 he was the first governor in North Carolina to receive veto power.
A National Historic Landmark, the State Capitol is one of the best-preserved examples of the Greek Revival style of architecture in the United States. It features a domed rotunda and state senate and house chambers, meticulously restored to their 1840 appearance. Until 1888 its granite walls housed all of state government, and the Legislature met there until 1961. Today the governor and her staff still occupy offices in the Capitol.
The State Capitol’s mission is to preserve and interpret the architecture, history and functions of the 1840 Capitol building and Union Square, where it is located. In downtown Raleigh, the State Capitol is bounded by Edenton, Salisbury, Morgan and Wilmington streets. Free parking is available in state lots near the Capitol. For more information on the Capitol call (919) 733-4994 or go to http://www.nchistoricsites.org/capitol.
The State Capitol, one of 27 state historic sites, is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency dedicated to the promotion and protection of North Carolina’s arts, history and culture. Join Cultural Resources’ celebration of its 2009 theme, “Treasure N.C. Culture.” For more information, visit www.ncculture.com.
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