/Architect of the Capitol

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

There isn’t much to do on a Saturday night these days. So last night I found myself down a YouTube rabbit hole, learning about the history of the US Capitol building. I stumbled across a video published by the Architect of the Capitol, the federal agency responsible for maintaining the entire US Capitol Complex. It’s the sort of timpani-laced propaganda flick that practically bleeds cheese. But instead of finding my eyes rolling, I found them, I hate to admit it, misty? I’m not the only one. As YouTube commenter “BN” notes, “This hits different in 2021.” Sure does, BN. Another commenter, four weeks ago: “Made my eyes water considering what just happened a few days ago.”

The video is about the $59.5 million restoration of the Capitol’s dome that began in 2013, and was completed in November 2016—and the loving craftsmanship applied to every detail, overlaid with some heavy-handed patriotism and bipartisan bonhomie from a cast of top leaders. Put aside the nostalgia for a time of party unity that never actually existed, and focus on the preservation science, the moments of real archeology (analyzing paint layers!), and notes of genuine can-do pride from the expert workers. (The Architect of the Capitol’s blog also provides this compelling and detailed account of how they cleaned up and repaired widespread damage after the January 6 insurrection. It’s a great read.)

Remarking on the vastness of the restoration project, and the dome’s sheer heft, one conservator notes in the film, “What we’re trying to preserve here is the solidness of our country.” Good to ponder, before a week in which we will be inundated by images of the Capitol under attack, during Trump’s second impeachment trial.

(Am I being too sentimental? Happy to field your cynicism in the comments.)

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate