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Leonardo Museum off to a slow but 'great' start

By Richard Piatt  |  Posted Nov 4th, 2011 @ 9:21pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — The Leonardo is a museum that’s struggling with its image a month after it opened. Part of the reason may be because it’s hard to describe.

“The easiest way to explain The Leonardo is that we're a new museum that's connecting science, art and creativity,” museum spokeswoman Lisa Davis said.

Davis described attendance in its opening weeks as both "great days" and "slow days.” Numbers aren't available, but she says memberships are higher than expectations.

In spite of two floors of engaging, unique and high-tech exhibits, a marketing firm is being brought in to help answer the question most people have: What is the Leonardo, anyway?

On a Friday around noon, there were a handful of people at the museum, at 209 E. 500 South in Salt Lake City, all of them clearly enjoying in the interactive exhibits.

“The regular children's museum is more play,” explained Megan Guidry, who was visiting from Huntsville. “This is more learning and getting you to think about your environment in a different way.”

Jesse Guidry, also visiting from Huntsville, said the museum offered more than he expected.

The Leonardo's appeal comes after a substantial taxpayer investment: A $10.2 million bond; about $750,000 in redevelopment money, and hundreds of thousands from both Salt Lake County and the state.

Most of the displays are pricey, but maintained by the nonprofit group Library Square Foundation for Arts, Culture and Science.

The Leonardo is trying to stress that it's more than a children's museum. The staff works to engage all ages in art and science.

“For one thing it could be more for adults because adults are more out of touch sometimes, with being creative and cutting paper and being crafty and kind of experimenting with stuff,” said Leonardo artist Trent Call. 

There's lots of competition among museums, zoos and parks in Utah. The Leonardo is striving to be on the top of people's must-visit list. 

The Leonardo's $10.2 million bond passed in 2002, but the operation of the museum is a nongovernment, nonprofit.

Exhibits will come and go every six months to a year and a half. Different programs, lectures and workshops will be available.

The Leonardo is open Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m; and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be closed Tuesdays.

For more information about The Leonardo, visit theleonardo.org or its Facebook page.

Email:rpiatt@ksl.com

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