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Exploring the U.S. Capitol

New $621 million visitor center opens in Washington, D.C.

A plaster model of the Statue of Freedom, which was used to cast the statue atop the U.S. Capitol Dome, is on display in the Emancipation Hall of the newly finished Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. The 580,000-square foot facility with a price tag of $621 million is set to open Dec. 2. About three million people are expected to visit each year. Alex Wong / Getty Images
The Exhibition Hall of the new Capitol Visitor Center, which opens to the public on Dec. 2, is seen in a reflection on the statue of U.S. astronaut John Swigert, Jr. The visitor center, which comprises three levels of below-ground floors, including new space for the House and Senate, is three-quarters the size of the Capitol building itself. Tim Sloan / AFP - Getty Images
The Capitol Dome is visible through the skylights of the new Capitol Visitor Center on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Susan Walsh / AP
A visitor photographs the statues in Emancipation Hall of the new Capitol Visitor Center on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Susan Walsh / AP
Capitol Visitor Center spokesman Tom Fontana gives a guided tour of the new center in Washington, D.C., Nov. 10. Behind Fontana is a cross-section of the Capitol Dome. Susan Walsh / AP
Visitors to the new Capitol Visitor Center will see a video about the U.S. Senate as part of the center's displays. Alex Wong / Getty Images
People look over displays at the new Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. Susan Walsh / AP
A model of the U.S. Capitol on display at the new Capitol Visitor Center shows the building as it appeared in 1851. About three million people are expected to visit each year. Alex Wong / Getty Images
The Exhibition Hall, with extensive displays, is part of the new Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. Tim Sloan / AFP - Getty Images