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Salt Lake City giving extra $900,000 to Leonardo

But museum project still faces shortfall of $13 million

The Salt Lake City Council unanimously approved budget amendments last week, including another $900,000 to help cover the cost of converting the old city library, on the corner of 500 South and 200 East, into The Leonardo arts and science museum.

The additional funds — along with the $600,000 the council agreed in August to put toward the project — are contingent upon an expected $1 million grant from FEMA. In all, it will mean about a $2.5 million funding boost for The Leonardo.

A $10.2 million general obligation bond for construction of The Leonardo, approved by voters in 2003, required the museum to find a matching $10 million in outside donations for programming, which museum officials have said has been secured.

But inflation and a new city environmental requirement have driven up construction costs, and The Leonardo now faces a shortfall. Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and museum officials have said another $13 million is needed for the project.

The Leonardo has been billed as a hands-on art, culture and science center for young people and adults, inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's multidisciplinary approach to exploring the world.

The project will include about 30,000 square feet of exhibit space, a gift shop, a cafe, a children's story zone, performance theaters, multimedia studios, science labs, a darkroom, a reception area and conference rooms. Leonardo officials expect the facility to open in early to mid-2009.