Sir Terence Conran donates £7.5m to Design Museum

Sir Terence Conran Sir Terence's gift will help the museum's relocation to a space with more room for exhibitions

Designer Sir Terence Conran has donated £7.5m towards a project to develop London's Design Museum.

Trustees of the museum said the cash gift would "help to create the world's leading museum of contemporary design and architecture in London".

The museum is relocating from its current site at Shad Thames to the former Commonwealth Institute building to make more space.

Sir Terence has also pledged the lease value of the sale to the project.

'The best museum'

The designer - who turns 80 this year - currently owns the lease on the building, which is thought to be worth £10m.

The donation, combined with financial support over the last 30 years, brings the Conran Foundation's contribution to the museum and its predecessor to £50m.

"It is my ambition to have the world's greatest design museum. We are thought of as the greatest creative nation in the world so why not have the best, most beautiful design museum?" Sir Terence told the BBC.

He added that they "simply don't have the space at the moment" in the existing Thameside facility, while the task of raising the remainder of the money for the project has been "made much easier by the government's enthusiasm for design".

But Sir Terence denies that his name should be enshrined in the new museum.

"No, no, no, I'm not Tate. Modesty is an important thing in design," he said.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, praised Sir Terence's altruism.

"Sir Terence's exceptionally generous gift to the Design Museum will not only help this excellent cultural institution move to a new home, but will also help showcase Britain's ability to produce some of the world's greatest designers and influence design on a global scale."

The 1960s Commonwealth Institute building in west London, which has been empty since 2001, is expected to create three times more space for exhibitions.

John Pawson is to convert the interior and Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas' Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) will create the surrounding development.

The project is expected to be completed by 2014.

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