London's Design Museum building

London's Design Museum to offer free entry from 2016

News: London's Design Museum has announced it will offer visitors free entry to its permanent collection from 2016 under a new UK VAT refund scheme, set up to encourage museums and galleries to scrap entrance charges.

The Design Museum will be able to offer free entry under the scheme announced by the UK government on Friday.

The changes to entry charges will coincide with the Design Museum's move from its current Bermondsey location to a new home in Kensington in 2016, near the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and the V&A museum.

"I am delighted to be offering help through the VAT refund scheme to ensure as many families as possible can visit at no charge at all," said chancellor George Osborne at a visit to the new site in Kensington.

"This is all part of our long term plan to make Britain and London a great place to visit with the economic benefits that come with that," he added.

Museums and galleries offering free entry are not normally able to recover taxes on purchases, however under the newly announced scheme the Design Museum will be able to recoup VAT costs associated with offering free access to their collections, as well as the cost of storage and restoration.

The museum is also expected to be refunded £1.8 million in VAT from the construction costs of its new premises. In addition it is set to receive approximately £150,000 in returned VAT on running costs each year. The tax cut will allow the museum to drop the current entrance charge of £12.40 and offer free admittance.

Qualifying museums and galleries will be able to apply for VAT refund through monthly or quarterly VAT returns.

The Design Museum will take up residence in the Grade II* listed former Commonwealth Institute off Kensington High Street in 2016.  The listed building is being renovated by British designer John Pawson for 2016 and will triple the amount of exhibition space available for the museum's collections.

"When we open the doors in 2016 we will reinforce Britain's worldwide reputation for creative leadership," said Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum.

With the new admittance policy and premises, the museum expects visitor numbers to double in its first year at the new site to 650,000.