Salt Lake City museum remains optimistic in face of $3.6 million debt

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Leonardo in Salt Lake City is under a massive debt.

The museum has accrued $3.6 million in debt since before it opened in October of 2011 said Katie Smith, The Leonardo's Chief Impact Officer.

Smith has been with The Leonardo for nine years, since before it opened.

The Leonardo is not a city run non-profit, but the city does own the building it inhabits.

Matthew Rojas, Communications Director for the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office, said the city gave The Leonardo a $600,000 loan in 2011.

It was a 10-year loan, and to date the museum still owes $280,000. In addition to that debt, the museum also owes the city another $270,000 in utility expenses.

The remaining debt is owed to other stakeholders and lenders, as well as vendors that include the Dead Sea Scrolls, Smith said.

Smith was optimistic when asked if she thought The Leonardo might fail.

“I certainly hope not,” she replied. “…We have been in conversations with financing institutions, and with the terms that they are offering us it’s extremely sustainable for us, based on how we currently perform.”

Smith said the museum is transitioning from a ‘start-up model’ to a ‘sustainable model.’

“Closing is a possibility, but we are hoping to avoid that at all costs,” Smith said. “We are definitely at a critical crossroads and the ability to secure their [the guarantors] consolidation loan will take, at the point we get the guarantors, will take anywhere from 30 to 60 days; so we are looking at that major decision by the end of the summer.”

For more on The Leonardo, visit their website.