The federal government may be on an austerity program, but Utah Congressman Jim Hansen has pledged to help find money for organizers who hope to build a $4 million museum here.

The 1st District Republican met on Wednesday with members of the Box Elder Education Foundation at a vacant Fred Meyer complex that would be the site of the proposed 100,000-square-foot complex.Foundation spokesman Lowell Sherratt said potential funding sources include federal, state and local governments and donations from private foundations, individuals and companies.

Along with a science museum, special exhibits, auditorium, art gallery and museum, the project might include a space center highlighting Thiokol Corp.'s contributions to the aerospace industry.

Hansen said he will assign staff members in Utah and Washington, D.C., to "ferret out as many potential funding sources as they can find."

Even though the idea is a "great one," Hansen told foundation members not to get their funding hopes too high.

He suggested they sell the idea to the public.

"If you get public support on a project, you can do anything. Without it, it won't go," he said.

Hansen said the foundation board also should meet with Gov. Norm Bangerter and other state officials, as well as with the other four members of Utah's congressional delegation.

Sherratt said such meetings are planned.

He said under the best scenario, the complex would be about 80 percent self-sustaining, with the remaining 20 percent coming from matching funds from state and federal sources or from donations from private sources.

The annual operating budget would be about $760,000.

Sherratt said he envisions volunteers working several hours each week, and said many local civic groups already had expressed interest in such a program.