The Foundling Museum

photograph of exterior of The foundling Museum
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The Foundling Museum explores the history of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and first public art gallery, and through a dynamic programme of events and exhibitions celebrates the ways in which artists of all disciplines have helped improve children’s lives for over 275 years.

The Foundling Hospital, which continues today as the children’s charity Coram, was established in 1739 by the philanthropist Captain Thomas Coram, as ‘a hospital for the maintenance and education of exposed and deserted young children’. Instrumental in helping Coram realise his vision were the artist, William Hogarth, who encouraged all the leading artists of the day to donate work and the composer, George Frideric Handel, who gave annual benefit concerts of the Messiah. In doing so, they created London’s first public art gallery and set the template for the way that the arts could support philanthropy. The Foundling Museum celebrates their vision and continues their work, by enabling artists, musicians and writers to work alongside vulnerable young people and cast new light on the histories we tell.

Venue Type:

Museum, Gallery, Heritage site, Historic house or home

Opening hours

Tuesday to Saturday, 10.00 - 17.00
Sunday, 11.00 - 17.00
Monday closed

Admission charges

Permanent collection

£8.25* Adults
£5.50* Concessions
£4.25* National Trust members

FREE Children (U16), Foundling Friends & Art Fund members

Permanent collection + exhibition

£10.25* Adults
£7.50* Concessions
£6.25* National Trust members
£2 Art Fund members

FREE Children (U16), Foundling Friends

*Ticket prices include a voluntary Gift Aid donation


  • International Council of Museums
  • National Trust
  • National Art Pass
Getting there

Rail: Euston, St Pancras, King’s Cross (10 mins walk)

Tube: Russell Square (2 mins walk) , King’s Cross, St Pancras

Bus: 59, 68, 91, 168, 188 to Southampton Row or Russell Square

17 (not evenings), 45, 46 to Gray’s Inn Road

10, 18, 30, 73 to Euston Road; 19, 38, 55, 243 to Theobalds Road

Additional info

At the Museum you can see:
* Poignant social history gallery telling the story of London's first home for abandoned children, including personal histories, artefacts, photographs and recordings;
* London's first art gallery featuring works by Hogarth, Rysbrack, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Roubiliac, Hudson, Ramsay and Wilson;
* Fine eighteenth-century, Rococo and Georgian interiors; and
* Gerald Cook Handel collection of Handel memorabilia.

Collection details

Archives, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Music, Personalities, Social History

Key artists and exhibits

  • London's first children's home
  • Rococo interior
  • Georgian interior
  • Coram
  • Hogarth
  • Rysbrack
  • Gainsborough
  • Reynolds
  • Roubiliac
  • Hudson
  • Ramsay
  • Wilson
  • Handel
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

So That They May Be Usefull to Themselves

  • 15 November 2016 — 7 May 2017 *on now

This display in the Introductory Gallery, explores the Foundling Hospital’s work with disabled children.

The Foundling Hospital was ground-breaking in its approach to access, as shown by the education and care it gave to disabled children in its custody. In some cases this led to lifelong support, even into old age. Curated by the Museum’s volunteers, this in-focus display explores their treatment of disability at the Foundling Hospital in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, alongside stories of former pupils.


Children rehearsing for the Jungle Book at Sewickley Academy, Pittsburgh, USA

Child's Play

  • 3 February — 30 April 2017 *on now

Artist Mark Neville has travelled the world photographing children at play in diverse environments, immersing himself in communities from Port Glasgow to North London, and the war zones of Afghanistan and Ukraine. Despite the often harsh environments, the photographs reveal children’s determination to play. Bringing these together in an exhibition of photographs, a book and a symposium, Child's Play seeks to generate debate around this complex subject and advocate for improved provision for children’s play (which is recognised by the UN as a universal right). This exhibition is particularly timely – in the UK traditional public space is being privatised and globally up to 13 million children have been displaced as a result of armed conflict. The exhibition reinforces our responsibility to ensure that children the world over have full opportunity for play and recreation.The exhibition contains both existing and new work not seen by the public before. On display are new photographs of internally displaced children in Ukraine; residents of Kakuma, Kenya’s second largest refugee camp; and depictions of children at play in London adventure playgrounds, all made especially for this project.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


£10.25 Adults, £7.50 concessions, £6.25 National Trust members, £2 Art Fund members, FREE children (U16), Foundling Friends
*Ticket prices include a voluntary Gift Aid donation


Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
two children stand in a street, b&w photo

Sunday Shorts

  • 5 March 2017 2-3pm

Enjoy two films about childhood play in our afternoon short film screening.

Margaret Tait’s On the Mountain (1973, 35 min) explores the changing pace of life on a single street in Edinburgh. Made on Edinburgh’s Rose Street, the film juxtaposes material from an early black and white film made in 1956, with a later colour film of the same street. This fascinating ‘film within a film’, explores how the street changed from being a place of overcrowded tenements with children playing in the road, into a pedestrian precinct with trendy boutiques and blocks of offices.

Ben Rivers’ Ah Liberty (2008, 20 min), moves from the city to the wilderness, following the unconventional life of a family growing up outside of society. As they live, work and play on a farm in dramatic beautiful surroundings, there is no particular story. The work conjures a sense of freedom through its beguiling fragments of lives being lived.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Free with Museum admission


Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Family Fun

Children, young people and families are able to explore The Foundling Museum through Trail of the Month, audio trails, story books, creative drop-in sessions and special events. In term time, sessions are held monthly on the first Saturday 13.00-16.00, and during holidays on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10.30-12.30 and 14.00-16.00. Activities are generally suited to children aged 3-12 years.

How to obtain

Arrive early to ensure you get a place. Check the website for full details of events.

Getting there

Rail: Euston, St Pancras, King’s Cross (10 mins walk)

Tube: Russell Square (2 mins walk) , King’s Cross, St Pancras

Bus: 59, 68, 91, 168, 188 to Southampton Row or Russell Square

17 (not evenings), 45, 46 to Gray’s Inn Road

10, 18, 30, 73 to Euston Road; 19, 38, 55, 243 to Theobalds Road

The Foundling Museum
40 Brunswick Square
Greater London




020 7841 3600


020 7841 3607

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.