Organisers of the US pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai confounded critics yesterday by announcing they had reached their US$61.5 million fund-raising target. Allowing media into the pavilion for the first time, US expo commissioner general Jose Villarreal said a US$5 million donation from financial conglomerate Citigroup had pushed the campaign over the finishing line. Villarreal said that when he made his first visit to Shanghai as pavilion commissioner in July last year, he made the 'fairly audacious' prediction that the project would meet its fund-raising target and be finished in time for the expo's opening on May 1. 'I am very pleased today to announce that we have achieved both,' he said. Only minor decorative work on the interior remained to be completed and the exhibit would be ready to participate in the park's test openings, starting on April 20. The US building has been one of the most controversial pavilions constructed for the massive six-month-long fair, with the country being one of the last to sign up and break ground on the project, due in part to the way its pavilion is funded. US federal funds cannot be used to pay for expo participation, meaning every penny had to be solicited from private donors. The US$61.5 million budget is divided roughly equally between design and construction, operations and entertainment. But Villarreal said he would not turn away extra contributions. 'Every additional dollar that we raise will allow us the ability to enhance the programme of entertainments we are offering,' he said. 'I don't want at all to communicate that we are not accepting any more money.' US pavilion organisers said yesterday they planned to bring out Grammy Award-winning acts Herbie Hancock, Ozomatli and Dee Dee Bridgewater during the first month of the expo. But while journalists were allowed to view the building's three showrooms - audio-visual viewing spaces designed to accommodate 500 visitors at a time - organisers refused to give a preview of the programmes. 'We want the first visitors waiting in line on the opening day to be the first to see the show,' Villareal said. The building's design has been widely criticised in Shanghai's expatriate American community and by online expo aficionados for lacking the visual power of past US pavilions. The project's architects say the building is intended to resemble an eagle with outstretched wings 'welcoming' visitors, but critics unfavourably compare it to an out-of-town shopping mall or multiplex cinema. The interior of the 6,000 square metre building is essentially a show space featuring three eight-minute films aimed at giving mainland visitors a taste of America, and culminating in a '4D' cinema which will include rain and wind effects. Greg Lombardo, a director of BRC Imagination Arts, which produced the pavilion's entertainment, said the content was intended to express American values and the aim of 'making the world a better place'. Tom Cooney, a deputy commissioner of the expo pavilion, said the shows would make repeated references to the strong 'American spirit of freedom and innovation'. 'The pavilion stands for everything that America is about. There is nothing off-limits here,' Cooney said. 'That would certainly include our democratic system of government.'