Museums reopened in London this week, and The Duchess of Cambridge (just like many of us) wasted no time in visiting one of her locals!
On Wednesday, Catherine paid a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum, of which she is Royal Patron. The V&A opened its doors to the public for the first time since December – when the second lockdown forced it to close to the public, as further rules were relaxed in England.
The Duchess was greeted upon arrival by Director of the V&A, Christian Hunt. She was then taken to the museum’s Raphael Court to see one of their two newest exhibitions – the Raphael Cartoons.
The Raphael Cartoons exhibit is being held to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. The tapestries, which were created in 1515, actually belong to The Royal Collection and were loaned to the museum by The Queen, who is the caretaker of these items.
The cartoons are a set of seven full-scale designs for tapestry painted by Raphael, commissioned by Pope Leo X for the Sistine Chapel; they are considered to be one of the greatest treasures of the Renaissance.
The royal visitor was also given a peek at the the second new exhibit, which opens to the public this weekend. ‘Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser’ features over 300 objects which vary from fashion to art, film to performances and from music to photography – and as you guessed from the name – about Alice In Wonderland.
The exhibit also focuses on the book’s cultural impact in the world of the arts. Visitors to the museum can view the main incarnations of Alice, from the original to the most modern, and also the impact it had on the likes of Vivienne Westwood in fashion, Salvador Dali and more.
‘Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser’ makes the V&A the very first museum in the world to fully explore the impact that Alice in Wonderland has had on our culture and how it continues to inspire those in the arts. The book was written by Lewis Carroll in 1910.
During the visit, Catherine spoke with V&A staff about the exhibits and how the museum has adapted in these times. She revealed that, due to COVID restrictions, she had had to cancel three visits to the museum and so was ‘very glad’ to be finally visiting.
The museum – the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance – is located minutes from Kensington Palace.
Speaking about the importance of museums, the Duchess told staff: “I think people have been craving beauty and inspiration.”
She also explained how she thought that now was the best time to visit the V&A and other museums and galleries as ‘they are not full of tourists coming in’.
After the visit, Kate Bailey, senior curator at the V&A, said the Royal was really pleased with her visit. “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.”
The Duchess studied art history at university and has championed art, including photography, as a means of expression and supporting good mental health.
“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,” Bailey added.
If you are interested in seeing the V&A’s latest exhibits, you can book your free tickets for a visit here. If you can’t visit in person, TCC encourages you to visit and support museums and galleries in your area, where it is safe and allowed to do so. Let us know what you get up to!