London-born Los Angeles real estate developer Arthur Gilbert spent 30 years amassing his collection of some 800 objets d'art before donating it to the British nation in 1996.
Featuring English and Continental silver, European gold snuff boxes and Italian mosaics, the collection will be housed in the Embankment building and the lower two storeys of the South Wing of Somerset House.
Although both Home House in Portland Square and the Royal Naval College at Greenwich were considered as possible homes for the collection, Gilbert preferred the more centrally located Somerset House, whose North Wing on the Strand was already home to the Courtauld Collection.
Architects Peter Inskip and Peter Jenkins were appointed, and the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £18.5M for the Embankment Building alone.
Later, the newly-formed Somerset House Trust received a further grant of £10M for repairs to the South Wing. Project manager is CM Heerey. The Gilbert Collection should open to the public in 2000.