The Foundling Museum

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.
The Museum exterior by daylight
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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. Through a dynamic programme of exhibitions and events, we celebrate the ways in which artists of all disciplines have been inspired to improve children’s lives since 1740.

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

Tues to Sat, 10.00 - 17.00
Sun, 11.00 - 17.00

Admission charges

Adults: £8.25 (including voluntary 75p GiftAid donation)
Concessions: £5.50 (including voluntary 50p GiftAid donation)
Children under 16: FREE
Art Fund FREE
National Trust: Half price


  • International Council of Museums
  • National Trust

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.
A shot of the Superman was a Foundling mural project

Superman was a Foundling

  • 14 June 2014 — 30 April 2015 *on now

Created by award-winning writer and 2014 Coram Foundling Fellow, Lemn Sissay MBE, Superman was a Foundling is a visual exploration of the powerful role that orphaned, fostered and adopted children play in our culture. Sissay’s striking mural provides a playful and contemplative counterpoint to the lists of foundling names on display in the Introductory Gallery.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Next of Kin medal given to the Foundling Hospital

Foundlings at War: World War I

  • 2 September 2014 — 4 January 2015 *on now

Foundlings at War is a major research project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund examining the Foundling Hospital’s historic links with the military. The Hospital was designed to prevent waste of life and create ‘useful’ citizens, and between the eighteenth and the twentieth centuries many foundling boys went directly from the institution into military service. Marking the centenary of the start of World War I, this display considers the effect of the Great War on the Foundling Hospital. It reveals for the first time the stories of both foundlings who fought, and the mothers who were forced to leave their children at the Hospital, as a result of bereavement or abandonment by those serving abroad.

This project will consist of three further displays over two years: Military Bands, Jan - Apr 2015, The Battle of Waterloo, May - Aug 2015 and Through the Ages, Sep 2015 - Jan 2016.

Suitable for

  • Any age


The exhibition is included in the Museum admission charge


Chris Watson recording the sounds of a geyser

Dawn Chorus

  • 25 September 2014 — 4 January 2015 *on now

Renowned natural history sound recordist and 2014 Handel Foundling Fellow, Chris Watson, worked with young care-leavers recording the sounds of the dawn chorus on the site of the original Foundling Hospital. Inspired by the genetic link today’s birds have with those that sang here for the eighteenth and nineteenth century foundlings, Watson’s installation links past and present through a poetic meditation on the importance of place.

Suitable for

  • Any age


The exhibition is included in the Museum admission charge


Detail of Dr Richard Mead by Allan Ramsay

The Generous Georgian: Dr Richard Mead

  • 26 September 2014 — 4 January 2015 *on now

Dr Richard Mead (1673-1754) was one of the most eminent physicians, patrons, collectors and philanthropists of his day, as well as a significant figure in the early history of the Foundling Hospital.

A leading expert on poisons, scurvy, smallpox and public health, Mead’s eminent patients included Queen Anne, George II, Sir Isaac Newton and the painter Antoine Watteau. A man of action, Mead explored poisons by drinking snake venom, and is said to have defended his theory on smallpox treatment to the point of fighting a duel.

His home on Great Ormond Street backed onto the Foundling Hospital grounds, and housed a magnificent collection of paintings, sculptures, antiquities, coins and a library of over 10,000 volumes. Painters and scholars were given free access to Mead’s renowned collection until his death, when it was sold, dispersed and subsequently forgotten. Examining its significance in London’s cultural landscape, this exhibition reunites key objects from his life and collection, such as the ancient bronze Arundel Head (2nd Century BC) and Allan Ramsay’s half-length portrait of Mead.

Exploring Mead ‘in the round’, as a collector, philanthropist and physician, this exhibition will bring to light the Foundling Hospital’s relationship with a truly remarkable individual who according to his contemporary Samuel Johnson, “lived more in the broad sunshine of life than almost any man”.

Suitable for

  • Any age


The exhibition is included in the Museum admission charge


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.
A score of the Foundling Hospital Anthem

Christmas with the Foundlings

  • 9 December 2014 6:30-9pm

The Amadè Players return with a special performance for Christmas – Christmas 1749. Inspired by Handel’s role in the musical education of the Foundling Hospital pupils, the Amadè Players present a programme of music likely to have been heard by the children themselves, including the Foundling Hospital Anthem written by Handel, and a series of eighteenth-century Christmas carols, all performed on period instruments.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Tickets £10, £8 concessions and Foundling Friends


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.