Efforts under way to bring more visitors to Capitol

Associated Press

Lansing — Efforts are taking place in Lansing to bring more visitors to the state Capitol building and the Michigan Library & Historical Museum.

John Truscott, vice chairman of the State Capitol Commission, said visitors to the Capitol have held steady around 120,000 per year for years, with upticks to 150,000 some years.

At the museum, Director Sandra Clark said in an email that about 87,500 visited between fall 2013 and fall 2014, down from more than 92,000 in the 2011-12 season.

Truscott and Clark said efforts are taking place to boost those numbers, including partnering with area tourism officials. The Capitol Commission is considering opening the 136-year-old building Saturdays, which hasn’t happened for years because of budget cuts, Truscott told the Lansing State Journal.

“It’s a very serious consideration,” he said. “That, in the future, may help change our numbers a little bit.”

The Capitol Commission also wants to build an $88 million Welcome Center on the Capitol’s west lawn that would include a cafeteria, a large committee room, new rooms for education events and enhanced security measures. A parking lot would be moved underground as part of the plans.

The Welcome Center has been stalled by revenue shortfalls in the state budget, but Truscott said the plans haven’t been shelved.

“We still intend to do it at some point,” he said. “And we do think that, given some of the educational elements we hope to build into it, it will increase visitors, as well.”