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Foundation stone laid for Berlin's James Simon Gallery

The foundation stone has been laid for the new reception center on Berlin's Museum Island. The James Simon Gallery project has been beset by delays and rising costs, but is expected to attract large numbers of visitors.

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First stone for new museum island building

The building designed by British star architect David Chipperfield is a "magnificent bridge from the past to modern times," the president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK), Hermann Parzinger, said at the ceremony on Friday.

The reception center, named after James Simon, the famous Berlin museum patron, is to become the main entrance to the five other buildings on Museum Island in the Spree River. It will house the ticket office, a souvenir shop, a cafe, a restaurant and an information center.

The building is now scheduled to be opened in 2017, three years later than originally planned. And on Wednesday, it was announced that construction would cost almost 30 million euros ($41 million) more than envisaged, bringing the total cost to almost 100 million euros.

The project is funded by the German federal government and supervised by the SPK.

Three million visitors to the island are expected annually.

The entrepreneur and philanthropist James Simon (1851-1932) donated more than 10,000 objects to the Berlin State Museums, including the famous bust of Nefertiti.

tj/ccp (dpa, epd)

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