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Sir Terence Conran Makes Major Gift to the London Design Museum

The Trustees of the Design Museum announced a major gift by the Conran Foundation, endowed by Sir Terence Conran towards the museum’s new development project. This will help to create the world’s leading museum of contemporary design and architecture in London.

Sir Terence Conran’s donation consists of a cash gift of £7.5m and the value of the sale of the lease of the current Design Museum building at Shad Thames valued in the region of £10m. This gift will bring the Conran Foundation’s support for the museum, and its predecessor, the Boilerhouse over the last 30 years to £50m.

Sir Terence Conran, who celebrates his 80th birthday in October this year, met the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Culture Jeremy Hunt at 10 Downing Street today in recognition of his continued support for the Design Museum and this exciting new project.

The Design Museum plans to relocate from its current home at Shad Thames to the former Commonwealth Institute building, giving it three times more space in which to show a wider range of exhibitions, showcase its world-class collection and extend its learning programme.

The remarkable 1960s Commonwealth Institute building has been practically unoccupied since 2001. Its refurbishment will give a neglected London icon a new life and purpose and will revitalise an important area of west London. In July 2010 the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea granted planning permission for 224 Kensington High Street Limited (a partnership between developers Chelsfield Partners and the IIchester Estate) for a scheme to modify the Grade 2* listed building. The project is expected to be completed by 2014.

The new museum’s home will be transformed by internationally acclaimed architects: John Pawson is to convert the interior, and the surrounding development is the vision of Rem Koolhaas’ OMA. The design team has been assisted by Lord Cunliffe, a leading member of the original architectural team for the Commonwealth Institute in 1958, and by James Sutherland, the building’s original structural engineer.

The capital budget for the project, including the site value is £77 million. The Design Museum has already secured a significant amount of the funding required in the form of contributions from the developer of the adjacent residential scheme, the generous gift from Sir Terence Conran, a first round pass* from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and a number of other major gifts. The museum is undertaking a major fundraising campaign to raise the remaining funds required for the scheme, this will include the submission of a second round application for a total grant of £4.9 million from the HLF.

Sir Terence Conran comments ‘Moving to the Commonwealth Institute will allow all our dreams and ambitions for the Design Museum to come true, to create a world class space with the size and scope for the serious
promotion and celebration of design and architecture in this country. I am also uplifted by the support we are receiving from Government, who recognise the enormous contribution the creative industries make to the economy and the quality of life of ordinary people. Design, manufacturing and business are completely interlinked and one cannot succeed without the other.’

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