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Officials of The Leonardo museum of art and technology took advantage of a "pre-opening" Monday at the former Salt Lake City main library to let taxpayers know that fundraising is continuing to go well.
"The funding has come in. It's still coming in," said executive director Peter Giles, before adding: "And it is still needed."
It was an important message to send, he acknowledged, after The Leonardo's rocky history since it was given voter approval in a 2003 bond election. Two years ago, Mayor Ralph Becker threatened to pull back the $10.2 million in voter-approved bond money when the museum's costs ballooned and a naming-rights deal collapsed.
But The Leonardo's management scaled back the project to $25 million and brought in private money to match the bond, and fundraising has continued. Over the noise of workers installing lighting, Giles announced that recent contributions from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation brought the total from that source to more than $1 million, along with another donation from the Micron Foundation for a learning lab that brings the microchip producer's support to $1 million.
"As people see The Leonardo becoming real, it will accelerate the charitable giving," Giles said.
The museum also has won the endorsement of Nobel laureate Mario Capecchi, who acts as the museum's senior adviser. The Leonardo's mission of critical thinking and innovation is crucial to generating "the deep rather than shallow discussions" necessary to solving the Earth's resource problems, Capecchi said.
"We cannot afford to squander this opportunity," Capecchi said. "Facilities like The Leonardo will help motivate us and provide a glimpse of our potential."
The building's interior finish still appears far from completion and the "move-in" was little more than the symbolic delivery of some small boxes. Giles admitted to the gathering of media and supporters, which included Becker, the he could not give a definite opening date for the museum, beyond sometime this summer.
"I assure you, The Leonardo will be up and functioning this summer," Giles said. "I'm sorry. I wish I could be more specific."
Science meets art
O Learn more about The Leonardo's exhibit.