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Thursday, April 22, 1999 Published at 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK


£20m for V&A extension

The Spiral: to be built on South Kensington's Exhibition Rd, London

The Victoria and Albert museum has received a quarter of the funds needed for its major expansion project in one anonymous donation.

The £20m windfall for The Spiral extension is the largest single donation ever received by the museum.

But, in keeping with demands of the donor, V&A officials were keeping tight-lipped about who the money had come from.

"If we're getting such a magnificent gift, we're inclined to stay in line with the donor's wishes," a spokesperson said.

The V&A is seeking the remainder of the £80m cost of the expansion from a variety of sources.

The project is dependent on private support after being turned down for National Lottery funding by the Millennium Commission.

Go-ahead likely

Planning permission for The Spiral was granted in November last year.

Designed by architect Daniel Libeskind and the design engineer Cecil Belmond, the project looks likely to get under way next year and is due to be completed by 2004.

Mr Libeskind designed the Holocaust Museum in Berlin and has been chosen to design a British Holocaust museum in Manchester.

He is already creating a centre for the Imperial War Museum in Manchester.

His design for the V&A museum has been described as "an undoubted masterpiece" by Sir Jocelyn Stevens, the chairman of English Heritage.

The extension will consist of 11 floors of new galleries, restaurants as well as educational and interactive facilities.

Museum director Alan Borg has said The Spiral is "the key to the V&A's aspirations for the next century" by allowing the museum to focus on the best of modern visual arts alongside the historic collections of the museum.

"It will enable us to develop a wide range of contemporary programmes at the V&A and to offer new ways of displaying and enjoying the latest in art and design - all in a building which will undoubtedly become an instant landmark," Mr Borg said.

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