Museum Extensions Under Threat

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 105 months ago
Museum Extensions Under Threat

TateExtension.jpg
Plans for the Tate Modern extension, by Herzog & de Meuron
Damn you, recession! Not content with rising unemployment, enormous public debt and letting the bankers get away with it, now you want to take away our fabulous museum extensions as well? You won't be happy until you've sucked every last morsel of joy out of life, will you recession?

*ahem* Culture Minister Barbara Follett told the Times that £22.5m of public money promised to the British Museum for its extension is no longer guaranteed. The development is described as "shovel ready" with two-thirds of the funds pledged - but that includes the government's pile. And with DCMS suddenly realising they're overcommitted, cash for the BM, Tate Modern's controversial extension and a new multi-screen film centre for the BFI is all looking a bit dubious. Thankfully the Natural History Museum's new Darwin Centre was finished before these worries, and was unveiled today (you can see it for yourself from 15 September).

And if you're sitting there thinking that the BM already has plenty of bloody room, what do they need a £135m extension for; well. Recent blockbuster exhibitions like the Terracotta Army and Shah' Abbas have been held in the Reading Room; but planning permission for that arrangement runs out in 2012 and looks unlikely to be renewed.

Government money was only ever part of these plans, but raising over £100m between the three projects from private hands looks so tough that the BM is willing to name bits of the new build after donors. If we all chip in a fiver, do you think we could get the Londonist broom cupboard?

Last Updated 16 July 2009

DeanN

Be a real shame to lose that British Museum extension, as they currently have to squeeze their blockbuster exhibitions into the Reading Room.

I wouldn't be too sorry to see the Tate one axed -- aside from arguments over its form, I'm not convinced the gallery has made a compelling case for all that additional floor space.

The BFI project isn't really all that worthy of government money either... they only opened BFI Southbank a few years ago, and it's a fine institution -- aside from more of the same, what exactly would the new film centre offer that isn't already on offer?

Matthew Smith

So that thing isn't going to get built? The recession can't be all bad, then.