August 1, 2011

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Work of Art

The Leonardo Aims to be Much More than a Musty Museum

Melanie Johnson

August 1, 2011

“We really want to be a place where people can discover new things, build their curiosity and share it with each other,” Giles says. “This can be a place to exchange insights and have conversations that are very meaningful around the dinner table after you go home.”

Even before moving into its new home, The Leonardo has had a hand in creating a buzz statewide with one-of-a-kind exhibits. The Body Worlds exhibit, for example, drew large crowds when it came to Utah three years ago.

The Leonardo has established several community programs in an effort to get people involved in the museum. An educational outreach program, The Leo on Wheels, takes the essence of the center to the classroom. Traveling to middle schools throughout Utah each year, it allows more than 14,000 students the opportunity to blend core material from their science classes with hands-on activities designed to foster critical thinking skills, creativity and innovation.

The Leonardo partnered with Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) to co-produce another program, Leonardo After Hours, which hosts a series of public discussions, shedding light on cutting-edge innovations from local universities and industry.

“We regard The Leonardo as our partners in creating the workforce of tomorrow for the innovations our researchers and clients are developing,” says Michael O’Malley, director of marketing and communications for USTAR. “The near-term benefit of The Leonardo’s programs is to inform adults about current science and technology and their impacts on society. The long-term benefit is to get our youth excited about science, technology, engineering and math.”

The Leonardo’s efforts to showcase the best of arts, science and technology in Utah have earned support from Nobel Prize winner Dr. Mario Capecchi. The University of Utah professor serves as a senior adviser to The Leonardo and is deeply committed to its success.

Ultimately, the folks behind the scenes at The Leonardo see their legacy being shaped by how well they can aid Utah’s continued emergence as a leader in innovation. Success in 10 years time will mean a network of partners and affiliates working together with The Leonardo to educate and inspire a new generation—turning them into problem solvers instead of worker bees.

“It’s really key to that habitat for innovation,” says Lisa Davis, public relations director for The Leonardo. “If you don’t have that informed citizenry, if you don’t have an engaged citizenry, if you don’t have that technologically literate citizenry to support that larger habitat—it doesn’t exist in a bubble. It can’t exist without that support of the larger community.”

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