Funding has been depleted and construction on the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum will halt Sunday, the center's executive director said Thursday.
In a news conference at the half-constructed museum, Executive Director Blake Wade said construction crews will provide site maintenance until more funds can be acquired.
Wade said the board of directors for the cultural center voted unanimously Thursday for a plan to preserve and protect the empty shell of the estimated $170 million building.
The project has never been fully funded and has been constructed in stages as funding became available to the state agency created to design, build and open the museum.
Completion hinged on a $40 million bond issue that was defeated by the Senate this past legislative session. It was the third time the Senate had denied funding for the project in similar bond proposals.
Wade said private donors who had pledged $40 million contingent on state matching dollars seem willing to grant an extension on their pledges for “a reasonable amount of time.”
Armed with letters of support from Gov. Mary Fallin and The Research Institute for Economic Development, Wade said project backers are working hard to secure pledges and new donations.
“We have worked diligently over the last two weeks, working with our donors to make sure that they know we're not quitting,” Wade said.
In reality, actual construction progress had halted at the site awhile ago once a logical stopping point had been reached; hope that funding might arrive shortly prevented complete “mothballing” of the facility.
The American Indian Cultural Center was conceived in the early 1990s and the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority, a state agency, was created to develop the museum.
With about 250 acres of contaminated land donated to the state by the city of Oklahoma City, remediation and eventually construction began.