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July 22, 2014

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Plans continue to advance for Henderson Space and Science Center

The Henderson Space and Science Center is planning to ask the city council in March for access to $20 million of city funding to move the project forward.

The $20 million would come from the city’s $25 million land fund already allotted for the project, and represents about one-third of the expected $63 million cost for the center.

The funding request is likely to face some opposition from the city council, which asked the museum board last year to commission a fundraising capacity study to determine if it can raise funds to build out the project. The council has been doling the money out in allotments so it can keep track of how the money is spent.

In November, the board had asked for $4 million to be transferred from the city’s land fund to the museum. The city council approved $1.2 million to recruit an architect and design team. During its executive board meeting Tuesday night, members decided to contract architectural firm Tate Snyder Kimsey/RAFI to design the museum.

“State funding for education is being cut,” said Jack Clark, Henderson Space and Science Center committee vice president and former city councilman, during a committee meeting Tuesday night. “We can’t continue to create the next generation of blackjack dealers … Communities are going to have to step up.”

The board plans to use the bulk of the city funds for the permanent museum, which will be located on a 168-acre city-owned lot near U.S. 95 and Galleria Drive, an area that city officials hope will become a mixed-used development and popular destination for locals and tourists.

Part of the $20 million would be used either to purchase or, more likely, lease a 10,000- to 20,000-square-foot building for a temporary museum, where artifacts can be stored and future exhibits showcased.

Although a timetable for the temporary museum is still under discussion, project manager Raymond Shubinski said he hopes to secure a site by the fall.

“This is a very strong and viable project, but we have a lot of details to work out,” Shubinski said.

The board is still considering locations for the temporary museum, but its members are leaning toward a site near the Galleria at Sunset Mall.

Last summer, the mall hosted the Henderson Space and Science Center’s first exhibit, “Ends of the Earth: From Polar Bears to Penguins.” During its three-month run, the exhibit attracted 25,000 attendees, bringing in more than $84,000.

The center plans to open its second exhibit, “It’s a Gas,” on the first floor of the mall about Feb. 26, lasting about 14 weeks.

“The quicker we can get (the temporary museum) up and running, the quicker we can apply for grant money and fundraise,” Clark said, adding that its proximity to the mall and nearby schools would help ticket sales. “We need something concrete to show people that we’re not just a bunch of people meeting every month.”

The Henderson Space and Science Center is expected to be complete within about five years.

Tate Snyder Kimsey/RAFI was chosen from a list of 13 firms from the city’s list of pre-qualified architectural firms.

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