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Tate Modern gets £50m towards new extension from the government

The generous contribution is the highest made to a cultural project in 10 years

Tate Modern has received £50m from the government for its planned extension, a major contribution towards the £215m project. This represents the largest capital commitment for a cultural project since the opening of the British Library ten years ago.

Tate has now raised a total of £62m, including £7m from the London Development Agency and £5m from banker John Studzinski. The generous government contribution may be partly due to the fact that there is not the lottery largesse that was available a few years ago (the Arts Council Lottery Fund’s maximum grant is now only £200,000), but it mainly represents a recognition of Tate Modern’s success.

Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the ten-storey extension to Tate Modern will increase space by 60%. The gallery currently receives 5.2m visitors a year (twice that of its international rivals, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Centre Pompidou in Paris), and this is expected to rise by a further 1m after the opening of the extension. The project received planning permission last March and is now at its detailed design stage. Construction is expected to begin next year, with completion in 2012 to coincide with the London Olympics.

Altogether, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has pledged a total of £191m in capital grants for museums over the period 2008/9 to 2010/11, as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review. This represents a 147% rise on the previous three years (although inflation has eaten into the figure and the Tate Modern award is exceptional). The total includes £62.75m for Tate (£50m for the extension), £22.75m for the British Museum (£10m for its planned conservation centre), £12.75m for the National Gallery, £12.6m for the Imperial War Museum and £10.2m for the Victoria and Albert Museum. Much of this money will be used for building maintenance.

o A Museum for the 21st Century by Sir Nicholas Serota, see p28

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Tate Modern gets £50m towards new extension'