Prof says U could benefit from The Leonardo

By and

If all goes well on Nov. 4, Salt Lake City may find itself with the most advanced science museum in the world within two years.

In addition to choosing their next mayor, city voters will have the opportunity to vote on Proposition 2, a $10.2 million bond that, if passed, would cover landlord-type improvements-electrical, plumbing and heating upgrades-and remodeling in the old Salt Lake Library for The Leonardo.

Unlike other metropolitan science centers, The Leonardo will focus on the relationship between arts and science by emphasizing the visitor in every exhibit.

Joe Andrade, U bioengineering professor and chairman of the Utah Science Center and The Leonardo Foundation, outlined plans for the facility’s future to a small crowd Thursday afternoon in the Gould Auditorium.

“We’re about developing a facility that really fosters creativity, invention and culture,” he said.

Currently, Salt Lake City is the largest city in the nation without a science center, but with the construction of The Leonardo, that could change drastically, Andrade said.

“We want to get those ‘Eureka!’ moments into a population that doesn’t have many of them,” he said.

Unlike traditional science museums that require visitors to initiate experiments or exhibits, The Leonardo will transform each visitor into the experiment, creating an entirely new museum-going experience, Andrade said.

“Our audience is adults and kids who want to be treated as adults…This won’t be a place for little tiny kids, although they’ll be welcome and they’ll have things to do,” he said.

From its location in Library Square, directly adjacent to the new downtown library, Andrade and a staff of more than 100 volunteers are hoping to change the cultural and educational face of the city.

“We want this to become the civic and intellectual center of the urban area…We expect that virtually every teacher in the state will be involved with this facility in some way,” he said.

Although The Leonardo has no formal affiliation with the U, Andrade said that upon its completion, students and faculty here could be the ones who benefit most from its presence.

“The U is likely to be the biggest beneficiary from this activity…We want to empower people, put them on TRAX and send them up here,” Andrade said in reference to the facility’s proximity to the U.

In addition to its support from local donors and the Utah Science Center, The Leonardo will also house permanent exhibits from the Center for Documentary Arts and Global Artways.

“The whole idea is motivated and invested into getting people who are disinterested in science motivated and involved through whatever means facilitates those concepts,” Andrade said.

In addition to the renovation of the old main library, plans are underway to construct a building adjacent to that spot to give the science center more space while also providing room for the other two facilities that will comprise The Leonardo.

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