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The Duchess opens the Treasures exhibition at the Natural History Museum

27th November 2012

The Duchess of Cambridge views an exhibit alongside Director of the Natural History Museum Doctor Michael Dixon (right) as she officially opens the new Treasures gallery at the Natural History Museum, in London

The Duchess of Cambridge views an exhibit alongside Director of the Natural History Museum Doctor Michael Dixon (right) as she officially opens the new Treasures gallery at the Natural History Museum, in London

The Duchess of Cambridge said she marvelled at the wonders of the natural world after officially opening the Natural History Museum's Treasures gallery. Her Royal Highness was shown around the Treasures gallery by the museum's director Dr Michael Dixon and spoke to senior scientists, donors and politicians including Culture Secretary Maria Miller.

Natural history film-maker Sir David Attenborough could not attend the reception because he was recovering from knee surgery.

In her address to the 360 guests at the reception tonight, The Duchess said she would like to send her very best wishes to Sir David. "It is a great shame that he cannot be here this evening," she 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."

The Treasures gallery, which will open to the public, on 30th November, 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.

Her Royal Highness 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.

"We were talking a little bit about the history of the specimen, how it came to the museum back in the 19th century, where it came from in Germany and how it's used today as an active part of our scientific research collection.

"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.

"She was able to point out quite a lot of the delicate features in the skeleton, she pointed out some of the birdie features that she recognised."

A speech by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge at the opening of the Treasures exhibition, Natural History Museum

Published on 27th November 2012

Thank you Dr Dixon.

Before I start, I would also like to send my very best wishes to Sir David. It is a great shame that he cannot be here this evening.‬‪

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. ‬‪ It is a real privilege for me to declare Treasures, in The Cadogan Gallery, officially open.‬‪‬‪‬‪

...

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