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V&A garners £20 million donation for Spiral

The Victoria and Albert Museum has scored another success in its bid to build Daniel Libeskind's celebrated Spiral building by securing a £20 million donation - a quarter of the extension's total build price.

Head of major projects Gwyn Miles said the private donation was from a family who had 'expressly forbidden' that their names be mentioned, but that it was the largest gift they had made and that their identity may have some bearing on the building's future name.

The project, which secured planning permission against the odds when Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council's planning committee overturned the recommendations of its planning officers last November, needs £80 million to be built, a figure which includes contingencies, inflation and disruptions to the v&a.

Miles said she was confident of raising the extra £60 million inside the next six months from a number of leads the museum already has. If the funding package is completed this year, clearing the ground will take place next year and a start on site will be made in 2001 for a 2005 opening. 'It's absolutely happening,' said Miles.

The building is to be built on Exhibition Road in London, consisting of 11 floors housing new galleries for the twenty-first century. v&a director Alan Borg said it would offer new ways of enjoying the latest in art and design 'in a building which will undoubtedly become an instant landmark'.

Culture secretary Chris Smith added that the building would add a 'spectacular contribution to an area which is already rich in architectural exuberance . . . Even before it is built it is becoming an architectural icon.'

Planners had recommended refusal of the scheme because of the building's height, bulk and scale, but a barrage of letters of support from the architectural community convinced the council.

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