There’s long been a desire for a science and technology museum in Salt Lake City which, Anderson says, is one of the very few large cities not to claim such a facility. Adds Salt Lake County Councilman Randy Horiuchi, “This is a state of science. It’s well known for its software, biotech, copper mining. They even build spaceships here.”
Back in 1993, U of U professor Joseph Andrade was chairmen of The Utah Science Center Authority, which was charged by the Legislature with building a technology museum.
“Joe is so passionate; he wants it to succeed,” Seed says. “He’s been dreaming of the Utah Science Center [USC] for 20 years.”
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Come 2000, when Anderson requested proposals for what to do with the soon-to-be abandoned library building, Andrade and his USC board seized the chance, as did Leslie Kelen’s now 24-year-old Center for Documentary Arts [CDA] which made a joint presentation with Global Artways (now Youth Artways), a city-funded youth-arts program run by Elaine Harding (later replaced by Anderson stalwart, Janet Wolf). Andrade proposed an interactive science center, while Kelen championed a center to “celebrate the stories of our ancestors.” In the end, the selection committee and Anderson effectively awarded the building to Andrade, Kelen and Harding.
Since whoever took over the city-owned building was expected to finance its renovation and maintenance, it’s hard to fathom how these three relatively small operations were supposed to raise the $14 million Andrade told the media in April 2002 they needed to open the facility in late 2003. Many such promised dates have come and gone since then.
Fund-raising issues aside, bringing together USC’s Andrade and CDA’s Kelen struck some as questionable. “Their three organizations [have] different personalities, budgets, missions,” Seed says. “It’s just a recipe for disaster.”
Kelen disagrees. “Joe and I probably see eye-to-eye on more issues of programming vision than probably anyone else in [The Leonardo] group.” It’s not a personal issue, he says, “it’s a programming, structural matter.”
Once it had been agreed that The Leonardo would function as an umbrella organization for the three partners instead of the initially discussed mall-like museum experience of splitting the building into three, the issue then became how to integrate them.
“Les is equally passionate [as Andrade],” Seed says. “He can talk for hours about the power of stories.” The problem is, she says, “These people have a beautiful, wonderful vision, but they don’t have any practical vision to implement it.” >>