Kate Middleton was in her element on Wednesday evening when she stepped out to see a vast collection of photographs at a landmark museum.
The royal mom – who is an avid photographer and has shared her own sweet pictures of her children — visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is not far from her Kensington Palace home, to preview some of the 800,000 images in the new Photography Centre of the museum.
After opting for a royal rewear earlier in the week, Kate wore a new off-the-shoulder fitted tweed dress by Erdem that featured a deep purple belt, button detailing and a flared skirt. She accessorized with matching Jimmy Choo velvet heels and a clutch. She styled her hair in her signature blowout and wore $1,220 crystal and pearl embellished hoop earrings from Erdem.
The event marks the first time she has visited the museum in an official capacity since becoming its first Royal Patron in March.
Kate, 36, toured the opening display, entitled “Collecting Photography: From Daguerreotype to Digital,” and took in some of the historical prints and contemporary photography the center is showcasing. She also met with curators during her visit.
Among the photographers whose work is on display are pioneering women such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Agnes Warburg, Cindy Sherman and the late Linda McCartney and her daughter Mary McCartney.
She began her visit with a surprise — she was shown Queen Victoria’s coronet, which her husband Prince Albert designed and had made for the Sovereign between 1840-1842. The diamond and sapphire coronet was both a reminder of the name that the museum carries and a fitting moment to mark Kate’s first visit as royal patron of the museum. It was among 3,000 jewels in the William and Judith Bollinger Gallery.
Princess Kate, who studied Art History at the University of St. Andrews (where she met future husband Prince William!), maintains visual arts at the center of some of her public work. She is also patron of the National Portrait Gallery. Kate was also spotted photographing William, 36, when he flew a helicopter over a lake in Canada in 2011 and released her own shots of a rainforest in 2012.
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Visitors enter the new center of the museum through an installation of more than 150 cameras spanning 160 years and interactive displays help people understand how photographers view the world through their equipment.
Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, said in a statement, “Our collection – established by the V&A’s visionary first director Henry Cole – now seamlessly spans the entire history of photography, telling the story of the medium from the daguerreotype to the digital.” (Daguerreotype is the early form of photographic image created on a silver surface.)
“Our new Photography Centre provides a world-class facility to reestablish photography as one of our defining collections. In an era when everyone’s iPhone makes them a photographer, the V&A’s Photography Centre explores and explains the medium in a compelling new way.”
Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photographs at the V&A, added, “The new Photography Centre brings to life some of the V&A’s most beautiful original picture galleries and provides a permanent home for one of the finest and most inspiring collections of photography in the world. Photography is one of our most powerful forms of global communication, and I’m thrilled that we can contextualize the past and present of this powerful medium in new and exciting ways.”