The engagement was an excellent choice for the Duchess who has been patron of the Natural History Museum since 2013. Since then she has carried out several public and private visits to the museum, even taking Prince George to view a dinosaur exhibit last year. Kate has long been passionate about the arts - graduating with a 2:1 in history of art from St Andrews in 2005 - and is a keen amateur photographer.
Kate was greeted by Stephen Deuchar director of the Art Fund.
The Art Fund Museum of the Year prize is awarded annually to one outstanding museum which has shown exceptional imagination, innovation and achievement in the preceding year. The prize of £100,000 is presented each year at an awards dinner attended by some of the UK’s leading figures in the arts and culture sector.
The prize champions what museums do, encourages more people to visit, and gets to the heart of what makes a truly outstanding museum. The prize goes to the museum or gallery that has best achieved some or all of the following criteria: undertaken projects that will provide a lasting legacy or have a transformative effect on the museum; brought its collections to life for audiences – engaging, inspiring and extending public understanding; delivered an original audience development, learning or outreach programme; clearly won the support and enthusiasm of its visitors and users.
Prior to the dinner, Kate met representatives from the finalist museums. Kate chatted about visiting the museum regularly with George and noted how much he loves 3D sculptures and dinosaur models. Emily Andrews shared this photo from the Museum.
On the menu tonight: Evesham asparagus and quail eggs with shaved summer truffle, granola and lemon oil for starters. The main course consisted of roast sea bream with courgette flowers, crushed Ratte potatoes and calamansi dressing. And for dessert, brown sugar meringue with blood orange and sugared candy floss and a negroni sauce.
Let's take a cursory look at the five museums shortlisted. First we have the Arnolfini. Founded in Bristol in 1961 and moved to its beautiful harbourside location 15 years later, since its inception it's been the city's cultural hub. Presenting an ambitious interdisciplinary programme of visual art, performance, dance, film and music, it welcomes half a million visitors each year to experience groundbreaking work by local, national and international artists.
Bethlem Museum of the Mind houses an internationally-renowned collection of archives, art and objects relating to the history of mental health care and treatment, dating back to 1555. Among the objects on display are metal and textile restraints, patient portraits from the 1850s, and the statues Raving and Melancholy Madness by Caius Gabriel Gibber, which were originally displayed at the hospital at Moorfields; plus an art collection of around a thousand works. Last year it was reopened by Grayson Perry (who attending the naming of Clore Art Room with Kate last year) after an impressive transformation, which has led to a dramatic increase in visitors. Given the connection to mental health, I imagine this one will be of particular interest to Kate.
Jupiter Artland is a unique award-winning sculpture collection twelve miles west of Edinburgh, and a charity committed to nurturing the work of contemporary artists and commissioning site-specific work. Jupiter Artland blends art, learning and nature to showcase the very best in established and emerging talent in contemporary art in a unique setting. In 2015, the organisation expanded by opening the newly constructed ballroom to create a counterpoint to the natural outdoor landscape.
Founded in 1852 following the enormous success of the Great Exhibition, the Victoria and Albert Museum is now home to more than 2.3 million objects from all over the world, ranging from textiles and fashion to sculpture, photography, furniture and more. 2015 also heralded the historic exhibition, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, which became the V & A’s bestselling exhibition, attracting a record-breaking 493,043 visitors from eighty-seven countries and generating an unprecedented amount of media coverage.
York Art Gallery was built in 1879 for the second Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, inspired by the Great Exhibition in London of 1851. It is now home to a superb collection of art spanning six-hundred years, including works by David Hockney, LS Lowry, Sarah Lucas, Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer, and the city's own William Etty. 2015 was a transformational year for York Art Gallery. In August 2015, its Grade II listed building reopened after an £8m development which increased its exhibition space by 60%, including three state-of-the-art galleries and the new Centre of Ceramic Art.
VIDEO: Kate announces @V_and_A as winner of @artfund & jokes about not being able to open the envelope! pic.twitter.com/YjM8Hm5HaA— Emily Andrews (@byEmilyAndrews) 6 July 2016
A smiling Kate leaving the museum. The Duchess debuted a new designer for the evening - London-based Brazilian-born Barbara Casasola.
Kate selected the designer's Off-the-Shoulder Mesh-Paneled Dress. The $2,210 midi dress is cut from figure-sculpting stretch-jersey and panelled with sheer mesh inserts for a sporty feel. Made in Italy, it it designed to create a flattering, feminine silhouette.
The dress is from the designer's minimalist Spring 2016 Collection.
Barbara Casasola is a very interesting choice of designer for Kate. She studied at Central Saint Martins and Milan’s Istituto Marangoni before going on to work at Roberto Cavalli. Today, she designs from her studio in London and despite her young age (32) is already a celebrity favourite, with her clientele including Kate Bosworth, Alicia Vikander and Gwyneth Paltrow. Her collections are described as "both elegant and relaxed, and are defined by a sophisticated use of colour".
A look at three styles from the designer: the Pleated Crepe de Chine Tunic, the Crepe de Chine Midi Dress, and the Stretch-Crepe Trench Coat.
The Duchess is very much embracing this season's incredibly popular 'cold shoulder' trend. Last month, she donned the off-the-shoulder Roland Mouret 'Nansen' gown for SportsAid's anniversary gala dinner.
Pinball Wizard identified Kate's new shoes as the Dollie Suede Sandals by Brazilian based brand Schultz. The antique-rose sandals feature an open toe and buckle-fastening ankle strap. The sandals are available for $90 in several colours at ShopBop and Heels.com.
Emily Andrews noted "Her heels were so high, she was wobbling slightly".
A look at Kate's very pretty clutch. A commenter notes it dates back to at least 2012.
The Telegraph notes Kate's decision to support Brazilian labels may have been a nod to the upcoming Olympics. More from their story:
'This was an Olympian effort from the Duchess in more ways than one. She has become savvy to the power of a dress to send a diplomatic message and with the Rio Olympics just weeks away now - they begin on August 5 - Kate's decision to wear Casasola is a very sophisticated acknowledgement that the eyes of the world will soon be upon Brazil, so why not nod to one of its classiest exports? This is gold medal levels of dressing prowess. '
What do you think of Kate's look tonight?
We also have several brief updates to share with you tonight concerning the Cambridges. Whispers of an autumn visit to Canada have been circulating for months. Our first concrete information on the potential tour came yesterday when Canada's Globe and Mail confirmed the invitation. More from their story Trudeau invites William and Kate for royal tour of Canada:
'The Prime Minister certainly has invited William and Kate [Middleton] and family to come to Canada whenever they are available on their schedule,” Mr. Trudeau’s director of communications Kate Purchase said in an interview, adding an official letter has been sent.
Ms. Purchase confirmed that the visit could come as early as the fall “It is a possibility, but again, we don’t have any confirmation. From the Prime Minister’s perspective, we invited them whenever their schedules permitted it,” Ms. Purchase said.
Other sources said officials are already mobilizing in anticipation of the visit, which stands to upstage any other royal visit that would occur during the actual celebrations of Canada’s sesquicentennial.'
It's important to note there is no official confirmation of the visit or any statement regarding the possibility from Kensington Palace. However, royal reporter Emily Andrews shared this tweet:
|Emily Andrews Twitter Feed|
There's been much debate and speculation about one aspect in particular: will William and Kate take George and Charlotte? Again, there's no official word, however, there is a feeling among members of the press pack it's a strong likelyhood, with the children potentially making a couple of select appearances during the visit. Canada was the location of William and Kate's first joint tour and it would be very special indeed to return five years later with their two children ahead of the country's 2017 celebrations of Canada's 150th anniversary of confederation. It would also be very interesting to see the Cambridges undertake two royal tours in one year - undoubtedly a sign of their increasing royal role. We'll keep you informed as news on this progresses.
Fans of the L.K. Bennett 'Addison' dress Kate wore when the Obamas visited Kensington Palace for dinner will be pleased to hear the dress has been reissued in all sizes. It retails for £325 on the UK site and $525 on the US/Canada website.
Finally, Kensington Palace announced the Duke and Duchess will see the world's largest military air show on Friday, 8 July, when they attend the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire. Kate is Honorary Air Commandant of the Air Cadets and both she and the Duke will have the opportunity to meet some of the cadets during their visit. Proceeds from the show benefit the RAF Charitable Trust. It promises to be a very interesting day with plenty of fabulous photos.
We'll see you tomorrow when the Duchess is set to attend Wimbledon :)
We'll see you tomorrow when the Duchess is set to attend Wimbledon :)