Blog Post

A Night At the Palace of Palms: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

As guests of World Monuments Fund’s (WMF) latest event sat down for dinner above the arching ceilings of the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse with the evening's main sponsor being Giorgio Armani, they were serenaded with a performance by the award-winning Kanneh-Mason family. The tables they sat at, meanwhile, were adorned with custom Cabana linens inspired by the lush greenery of their surroundings. The spectacular ambience could not have been more appropriate for Palace of Palms, an event celebrating one of the ambitious projects that forms part of our Climate Heritage Initiative

The event, which brought together supporters and Board members of both WMF’s main office and its affiliates, had such notable guests as HRH the Duke of Gloucester, the Royal Patron of WMF Britain, Kim Cattrall, Emilia Fox, Simon Jenkins, Prince Amyn Aga Khan, Ashley Hicks, Jack Guinness, and Pixie Geldof. 

In 2021, WMF announced that we were partnering with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBGK) to make two of the gardens’ most iconic buildings—the Palm House and the Waterlily House—carbon zero, replacing their outdated heating systems with new, clean-running ones and restoring the iron-and-glass structures. The project would bring the buildings in line with Kew’s Sustainability Plan while generating a pioneering—and potentially scalable—model for the conversion of a historic glasshouse to renewable energy sources. The attendees at the event—which also included a silent auction to raise funds for the conservation project—were therefore supporting an effort to create a model for the decarbonization of botanical gardens around the world. 

After attendees were seated for the evening, WMF President and CEO Bénédicte de Montlaur delivered opening remarks in which she observed that the project at Kew encapsulated the organization’s commitment to mitigating the impact of climate change. “The Palm House was a triumph of British ingenuity when it was built 175 years ago, and today, it is developing innovative solutions to build climate resilience,” she said. “Let this night inspire action and multiply our ever-growing WMF global community.”  

Richard Deverell, RBG Kew’s director, also spoke, addressing the importance of places like Kew for teaching the public about the invaluable contributions of rainforest species. “The Palm House is a place of scientific significance, valuable to the world both as a structure and for the plants it houses. It is a place for education and inspiration, and we are committed to renovate this spectacular heritage building for future generations to come.” 

World Monuments Fund's work at Kew Gardens has been made possible, in part, by support from Hélène Marie and Jake Shafran, The Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, Nora McNeely Hurley and Manitou Fund, and the Aldama Foundation.