Catherine ‘wowed’ as she opens new wing at V&A museum

Earlier today, The Duchess of Cambridge popped down the road from Kensington Palace to the V&A museum, to open a new wing there.

The Duchess of Cambridge attends the opening of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s new entrance and courtyard. Picture by Pete Maclaine / i-Images

The new entrance of the Victoria and Albert Museum on Exhibition Road leads through the historic Aston Webb Screen into a courtyard featuring 11,000 handmade porcelain tiles – the world’s first, floating above a new underground gallery, The Sainsbury Gallery.

Amanda Levete, who designed the area, said the Duchess was ‘stunned’ by the outdoor space upon her arrival, because the sun came out and hit the porcelain: “The courtyard was glistening, and the brightness of it just lights up the elevations of the V&A, and you see the museum in a completely different way. It feels very contemporary.”

The new wing is the largest architectural project at the museum in the last 100 years.

Known for its exceptional fashion exhibitions, the V&A currently have a pair of LK Bennett ‘Sledge’ heels on display in taupe – a pair regularly seen on Catherine.

Tristram Hunt, former MP and now the V&A’s director, said: “The V&A have had connections with Kensington Palace going back to the 1850s. It was Prince Albert’s vision, and then Queen Victoria opened the V&A in 1899.

He explained that Kate was ‘wowed’ by the architecture there. “She was really interested in the engineering – how we dug down 50 metres, and yet kept the walls upright and did not break a single piece of glassware or ceramics.”

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Dr Hunt added: “It is a huge day for the museum. It has really revived our original mission – this notion of Albertopolis, spreading out into Exhibition Road, this high-tech science and art campus, linking us with the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, Imperial College, the Goethe Institute, the Institut Francais, all of our friends and partners in South Kensington.”

Kate was shown around the the Sainsbury Gallery, which is hosting a selection of temporary light and sound installations, and heard about the design of the new wing.

The Duchess of Cambridge unveiled an engraving marking the reopening with a Royal, before attending a reception with those involved in the creation of the space.


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