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Governors' portraits vandalized

ST. PAUL - Portraits of three former governors displayed in the Minnesota Capitol were vandalized Wednesday, but the state Historical Society said they can be repaired.

Portraits of Jesse Ventura, Harold LeVander and Elmer L. Andersen were defaced with what appeared to be a marker.

Bill Keyes of the Historical Society said a painting conservator will fix the "little, quick squiggles" left by a vandal.

A red mark appears on the white shirt of Ventura in his portrait, which is among the most viewed in the Capitol. A red mark was drawn across Andersen's face and a black or blue mark defaced LeVander's lips.

All are on the Capitol's ground floor, which on Wednesday was little used, but just down one flight of stairs from dozens of journalists waiting for a budget negotiations announcement.

Historical Society officials said the cost to repair the portraits is not known, but they will be back on display as soon as possible.

Paintings of Minnesota's 38 former governors are on permanent display in Capitol corridors. Keys said it is surprising they do not suffer more tampering, given the Capitol has between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors annually.

Keyes said he is not aware of similar vandalism to any of the portraits in recent years. He said the Historical Society attempts to strike a balance of preserving art for the future while making it available for public viewing.

"I'm disappointed, but it's not the end of the world," Keyes said. "And fortunately it's reparable."

Ventura served from 1999 to 2003. LeVander was governor from 1967 to 1971, while Andersen served from 1961 to 1963.