Watch: Duchess of Cambridge tours V&A museum
The Duchess of Cambridge has toured a new exhibition with a special link to her university days, before its public opening.
Kate visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, close to her home at Kensington Palace, to see an exhibition about Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.
The duchess wrote her dissertation on the photography of Carroll when she was an Art History student at St Andrews in Scotland.
The mother of three wore a red Alessandra Rich dress for the morning engagement, which also included a look at the V&A's Raphael Court, home to the Raphael Cartoons.
During the visit she said: "I am very glad to be here today as we have had to cancel three previous visits because of COVID, so it’s nice to be here."
She added: "I think people have been craving beauty and inspiration. It’s going to be a good time to visit museums and galleries as they are not full of tourists coming in."
The V&A reopened on Wednesday after the coronavirus pandemic forced a closure, and the Alice in Wonderland exhibition, entitled Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser, opens on 22 May.
The Raphael Court is reopening after a nine-month refurbishment, which includes a new digital element to help visitors experience the cartoons.
The seven pieces by Raphael were commissioned in 1515 by Pope Leo X for the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. They are considered some of the greatest works of the Renaissance.
The tapestries have been loaned to the museum by the Queen via the Royal Collection Trust.
Kate carried a clutch bag and left her hair loose as she toured the Alice exhibition, which features more than 300 objects spanning film, performance, fashion, art, music and photography linked to the famous novel.
Kensington Palace said the V&A is the "first museum to fully explore the cultural impact of the book and its ongoing inspiration for leading creatives, from Salvador Dalí and Yayoi Kusama to The Beatles and Vivienne Westwood".
Meeting staff afterwards, Niede Gentelini, from visitor experiences, told Kate: "The museum is this beautiful because to the collections, it is the soul of the museum. We are very happy to welcome you. People have been craving art.
"All this beauty is not so beautiful if people aren’t here to see it."
Kate Bailey, senior curator at the V&A, said the duchess was thrilled by the tour.
She said: "She was so engaged and interested. She clearly has a great knowledge of art history and I think it’s just so appropriate that she was here, among the first members of the public to come in, as our royal patron.
"As we were leaving she said how important it was to be here in the now and reflected on how the exhibition was multi-sensory, which is probably what people need now after months of lockdown."
The duchess has been royal patron of the V&A since March 2018.
Its director, Tristram Hunt, recently confessed to The Times that running the museum during the pandemic had been "hell".
He said: "With a structural deficit of £10 million and a drop in revenue of £40 million we have had to say goodbye to 140 colleagues."
He added: "It’s going to be 2023 or 2024 before we are fully back. For months this museum has felt like Miss Havisham’s house. Half the stuff has been veiled behind plastic drapes. I can’t wait to get the public coming back it inside it. I can’t wait to see the museum coming back to life."
The V&A is open now.
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