The Foundling Museum
The Foundling Museum
40 Brunswick Square
020 7841 3600
020 7841 3607
The Foundling Museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, London's first home for abandoned children and of three major figures in British history: its campaigning founder the philanthropist Thomas Coram, the artist William Hogarth and the composer George Frideric Handel. This remarkable collection of art, period interiors and social history is now housed in a restored and refurbished building adjacent to the original site of the Hospital, demolished in 1926. Our programme of regular public events includes exhibitions, displays, weekly lunchtime concerts, talks, performances, workshops and drop-in family activities.
Captain Thomas Coram lived in an age that cared little for the plight of unwanted children, who were often left to die on the streets of London. When Coram retired after a life spent as a successful ship-builder and sailor, primarily based in the New World of America, he was horrified by the spectacle of poverty on London's streets. He spent the remainder of his life striving to fulfil his grand design, which was to establish a refuge for abandoned children. In this endeavour he was assisted by his friend, the artist William Hogarth, who like Coram himself was childless. Their efforts were rewarded in 1739, when George II granted a Royal Charter for the establishment of a Foundling Hospital.
Hogarth personally contributed paintings to decorate the walls of the new building. His example inspired many other contemporary British artists to donate works to this pioneering and philanthropic institution, creating the first British art gallery, The Foundling Hospital, which is now seen as the catalyst for the Royal Academy. At that time there was little exhibition space available for artists in London and the walls of the Hospital served this purpose.
The rich and powerful were encouraged to come and view the pictures as well as the children, with the hope that they might commission works from one of the exhibiting artists and contribute to the work of the Hospital.
George Frideric Handel also supported the Hospital's charitable work by giving benefit performances of his work in the Chapel.
In the 1920's the Foundling Hospital was pulled down, but the treasures were saved and moved to 40 Brunswick Square. The Foundling Museum houses the nationally important Foundling Hospital Collection. The work with vulnerable children continues and the charity is now known as Coram. The Foundling Museum was established in 1998 as a separate but closely linked charity.
Museum, Gallery, Heritage site, Historic house or home
Tues to Sat, 10.00 - 17.00
Sun 11.00 - 17.00
Children under 16: FREE
Art Fund FREE
- International Council of Museums
- National Trust
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.
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
By George! Handel's Music for Royal Occasions
- 7 February — 18 May 2014 *on now
In the 300th anniversary year of the coronation of George I, the first Hanoverian king, this fascinating new exhibition explores Handel and his music for royal occasions.
No composer has been more closely associated with the British monarchy than
German-born George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). His anthem Zadok the Priest has been performed at every coronation since that of King George II in 1727, while his Water Music was performed in 2012 on the River Thames for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
Handel enjoyed the patronage of three British monarchs during his lifetime: Queen Anne, George I, and George II. Employed by George I in Hanover, Handel had the advantage of knowing the new king before he ascended the British throne in 1714. Although he was not appointed Master of the King’s Musick, Handel was favoured by George I and his family, while the appointed Master was left to compose music for smaller, less significant occasions. Handel tutored the royal princesses and composed music for almost all important royal events. He went on to compose the coronation anthems for George II, as well as the Music for the Royal Fireworks and the famous Water Music.
The exhibition features treasures from the Gerald Coke Handel Collection as well as loans from the British Library, National Portrait Gallery and British Museum and never before seen items from the archives of Westminster Abbey.
By George! Handel’s Music for Royal Occasions is supported by the By George! Supporters’ Circle, the John S Cohen Foundation, the Golsoncott Foundation and Rothschild.
- Any age
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.