Kate Middleton has added a second London museum to her highly selective group of patronages. It was publicly announced on Friday that the The Natural History Museum would become one of her focuses over the coming years. In 2012 Catherine chose to lend support to the National Portrait Gallery and the Art Room a charity which helps disturbed children engage with visual art. The 31-year-old royal, who is expecting her first child with Prince William in July, has also chosen to support Place2Be and SportsAid in this round of patronages. She will help them by carrying out public engagements on their behalf.
The Natural History Museum is one of three large museums on Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London (the others are the Science Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum). Its main frontage is on Cromwell Road. The museum is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Although commonly referred to as the Natural History Museum, it was officially known as British Museum of Natural History until 1992. It legally separated from the British Museum in 1963.
Praising the Duchess, the museum’s director, Dr Michael Dixon, said: “When she was here last November it was clear to me how much she shares our passion for understanding and maintaining the diversity of our planet.”
The museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 70 million items within five main collections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology. The museum is a world-renowned centre of research, specialising in taxonomy, identification and conservation. Given the age of the institution, many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Darwin. The Natural History Museum Library contains extensive books, journals, manuscripts, and artwork collections linked to the work and research of the scientific departments. Access to the library is by appointment only.The museum is particularly famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons, and ornate architecture — sometimes dubbed a cathedral of nature — both exemplified by the large Diplodocus cast which dominates the vaulted central hall. Originating from collections within the British Museum, the landmark Alfred Waterhouse building was built and opened by 1881, and later incorporated the Geological Museum. The Darwin Centre is a more recent addition, partly designed as a modern facility for storing the valuable collections.
Last autumn the Duchess of Cambridge opened a new gallery dedicated to the best of Briton’s natural history treasures. ‘Treasures in the Cadogan Gallery’ exhibited 22 special exhibits chosen from 70 million specimens and artefacts held by the Natural History Museum’s extensive collection.The museum is currently featuring the photographs of the Brazilian artist Sebastiao Salgado.