December 6 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
The Duchess of Cambridge officially opened the Natural History Museum’s Treasures gallery last night.
Kate was shown around by museum director Dr Michael Dixon and spoke to senior scientists, donors and politicians.
In her address to the 360 guests at the reception tonight, Kate said: “It is a huge honour to be here tonight. The Natural History Museum has a very special place in the heart of this nation.
“William and I are just two of millions of people who have passed through these doors, and marvelled at the spectacular wonders of the natural world, housed in this beautiful gallery.
“I care passionately about what this museum stands for. Being here tonight, seeing some of nature’s finest treasures, reminds me just how precious and awe inspiring the natural world is.
“That is why the opening of Treasures is so incredibly exciting. If it were ever needed, there is now even more reason to visit this wonderful museum.”
Natural history film-maker Sir David Attenborough could not attend the reception because he was recovering from knee surgery.
Kate was dressed in a green Mulberry dress, which she matched with black heels. She also had a freshly cut side fringe, which gave her a distinct 1970s look.
The Treasures gallery, which will open to the public on Friday will celebrate the museum’s most exceptional objects of all time.
It will include 22 special exhibits chosen from 70 million specimens and artefacts.
Each exhibit has been chosen to represent the museum’s scientific, aesthetic, historical, social and cultural worth and span 4.5 billion years of nature.
Kate talked to several museum staff when she was given a preview of the Treasures gallery including dinosaur specialist Dr Paul Barrett, who talked to her about a limestone slab that contains the fossil of one of the earliest known birds.
It has been described as the collection’s Mona Lisa and is believed to be around 147 million years old.
“I was showing the Duchess our fossil of archaeopteryx and archaeopteryx is our earliest known bird,” Dr Barrett said.
“She was interested in where the specimen came from and the sorts of features it had that showed why birds and dinosaurs are so closely related.
“The Duchess seemed very interested in the specimen, she already knew something about it, she had already heard of archaeopteryx and knew that it was the earliest bird.”