Congress breaks, Capitol repairs begin

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While lawmakers skip out of Washington for spring break, the Capitol Rotunda is undergoing its first makeover in more than 50 years.

With more than 1,300 cracks marring its exterior shell, the rotunda is closed to the public from April 12 through April 28, in phase one of the two-year, $60 million restoration project.

During the 17-day closure, workers are installing safety netting around the iconic 8.9 million-pound cast iron dome. 

"This netting will ensure the safety of all who enter the Capitol for the duration of the two-year project allowing the Rotunda to be accessible for the duration of the project after it is installed," according to the U.S. Capitol Dome Restoration information website from the Architect of the Capitol.

Artwork lining the walls of the rotunda has been caged in scaffolding and the Capitol’s visitor center remains open to the public while repairs are underway.

The Architect of the Capitol has tweeted photos of repairs throughout the spring recess.

Roughly 150 years old, rain, rust, sleet and snow have taken a toll on the historic building. The last time the exterior of the dome received an overhaul was in 1959-1960.