The largest carved onyx figure in the world, the Vision of Peace statue weighs 60 tons and stands 36 feet tall in the center of the Ramsey County Courthouse in St. Paul, Minnesota. The statue depicts five Native Americans sitting around a fire smoking their peace pipes. Swedish sculptor Carl Milles was inspired by an actual peace pipe ceremony that he attended in Oklahoma.
Twenty local stone carvers crafted the statue from white Mexican onyx using a full-scale model developed by Milles. The carvers shaped 98 individual blocks and cemented them together around a steel I-beam spine with three-quarter inch bronze ribs. Sitting on top of a motorized turntable, the Vision of Peace oscillates slowly, taking two and a half hours to complete one cycle.
Unveiled on May 28, 1936, the statue was dedicated to the war veterans of Ramsey County and as a tribute to enduring peace. At the time, it was known as the Indian God of Peace. The statue was renamed the Vision of Peace in 1994 in a special ceremony that involved representatives from three major Minnesota-based Native American tribes.
The Vision of Peace stands as the most spectacular feature inside of Memorial Hall, an 85-foot by 21-foot three-story room at the heart of the Ramsey County Courthouse. The Hall, built only a few years before the statue was completed, is complete with blue Belgian marble walls and a gold-mirror ceiling. Sixteen hollow bronze shafts set in marble columns surround the statue.
The Courthouse is also home to a basement museum that honors veterans of World War I and includes an exhibition of battleships and local heroes. A self-guided tour of the 21-story art deco building is available for visitors.