British Museum boosted by 25-million-pound donation

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The British Museum said Sunday it has received a donation of 25 million pounds (38 million dollars, 30 million euros), reportedly the biggest such contribution to the arts in Britain since 1985.

The gift from Lord John Sainsbury, a member of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party and former chairman of the Sainsbury's supermarket chain, will help fund a new extension at the world-famous London museum.

"This is an incredibly important project for the British Museum and has been planned for a long time. This donation is a vital part of the project," said a spokeswoman for the museum, one of Britain's top tourist attractions.

"There's no doubt it's incredibly generous and it will benefit future generations."

According to The Sunday Times newspaper, the donation is the biggest to the arts here since philanthropist Jean Paul Getty pledged 50 million pounds to the National Gallery and 40 million pounds to the British Film Institute in 1985.

It will help fund a new conservation and exhibitions centre which has been designed by Lord Richard Rogers, the architect behind the Centre Pompidou in Paris and Madrid airport, and is expected to cost 135 million pounds.

© 2010 AFP

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