About 3,000 ordinary Malawians queued outside the buildings as the country mourned the sudden death of Mutharika, who died on April 5 after a heart attack.
“I wanted to be one of the first people to see our dear president who died a sudden death,” Madalitso Jimu said in the long queue.
Many mourners walked into the capital Lilongwe from outlying shantytowns, at one point becoming rowdy during the wait, forcing police to stop the crowd from pushing and shoving.
Mutharika’s body will also lie in state in the commercial city of Blantyre and the northern town of Mzuzu before his funeral next Monday.
He will be buried at a family mausoleum on his farm 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Blantyre.
His body was last Saturday repatriated from South Africa where it was flown after his death.
Even Malawians who had opposed Mutharika’s heavy-handed government came to pay their respects.
“Well, at least I can say bye to the president who caused misery to Malawians because of his poor economic policies,” said Masauko Thom, who walked 10 kilometres to get to parliament.
Malawians had until now shown little emotion for the death of the man they accused of mismanaging the economy, resulting in extreme poverty and shortages of food and fuel.