Kate Middleton Stuns Presenting V&A With World’s Biggest Museum Award

The museum nabs the biggest British art prize.

Kate Middleton was on hand on July 6 at London’s Natural History Museum, presenting the Art Fund Museum of the Year Award for 2016 to the Victoria & Albert Museum, also in London. Guests at the ceremony included artists Antony GormleyCornelia Parker, and Yinka Shonibare, Tate director Nicholas Serota, and Ed Vaizey, the UK’s Minister of State for Culture.

The Duchess of Cambridge, clad in an off-white Barbara Casasola dress, met with V&A director Martin Roth and representatives from the other award finalists, Arnolfini in Bristol, Bethlem Museum of the Mind in London; Jupiter Artland in West Lothian, and York Art Gallery.

The award, which comes with a £100,000 ($130,000) cash prize to help fund acquisitions, recognizes a museum that “has shown exceptional imagination, innovation and achievement across the previous 12 months.” It is the world’s biggest museum award and largest prize in the UK, according to the organization.

Kate Middleton presents the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2016 prize to Martin Roth, director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Courtesy of Matt Dunham/AFP/Getty Images.

Kate Middleton presents the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2016 prize to Martin Roth, director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Courtesy of Matt Dunham/AFP/Getty Images.

“Its recent exhibitions, from Alexander McQueen to ‘The Fabric of India,’ and the opening of its new Europe 1600–1815 galleries, were all exceptional accomplishments,” said Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund and chair of the judging panel, in a statement. “It was already one of the best-loved museums in the country: This year it has indisputably become one of the best museums in the world.”

A former art history student, Middleton often includes art museums and art-related activities among her royal engagements, from a visit to Margate’s Turner Contemporary in March 2015 and the Tower of London’s stunning poppy installation in August 2014, to stateside stops at a gala dinner at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Kate Middleton was at London's Natural History Museum to present the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2016 prize. Courtesy of Matt Dunham/AFP/Getty Images.

Kate Middleton was at London’s Natural History Museum to present the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2016 prize. Courtesy of Matt Dunham/AFP/Getty Images.

In addition, Middleton is also a patron of the Natural History Museum as well as London’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG) and the Art Room in Oxford. She even gave an added boost to the NPG’s successful campaign to raise money to buy Anthony van Dyck‘s last self-portrait and prevent it from leaving the country.

Unfortunately, the Duchess’s track record as an artistic inspiration is less-than stellar: Her official royal portrait was widely criticized, and efforts by uncommissioned artists have also included some truly unflattering works of art. In May, Guardian critic Jonathan Jones also slammed the NPG for displaying photos of Middleton first published in Vogue, writing, “Kate Middleton’s relationship with the NPG is typical of the monarchy’s politely poisonous effect on art.”


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