New home for Donatello and Da Vinci in London

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The Victoria and Albert Museum yesterday announced that the first phase of its dramatic expansion plans will be completed with the opening of its £30m medieval and Renaissance galleries this time next year.

Ten new rooms occupying an entire wing of the museum will display 1,800 treasures including a permanent display of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks.

A whole gallery is to be devoted to the work of the sculptor Donatello, while masterpieces of medieval craftsmanship on show will include the largest of the enamel caskets dedicated to St Thomas à Becket.

The V&A already has a collection of Renaissance sculpture widely regarded as the finest in the world outside Italy, and in the new development an entire Florentine chapel from Santa Chiara will be open for the public to browse inside.

However, details of the bold initiative – for which almost all of the £120m funding is in place – were followed by comments from Mark Jones, the director of the V&A, warning of the difficulty in raising funds for arts intiatives in the current economic climate...

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