The Foundling Museum
The Foundling Museum
40 Brunswick Square
020 7841 3600
020 7841 3607
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.
Tues to Sat, 10.00 - 17.00
Sun 11.00 - 17.00
Closed: Mon, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day, Good Friday
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
Handel and Lucretia: In Focus Display
- 17 September 2013 — 5 January 2014 *on now
This display, in collaboration with The Sir Denis Mahon Charitable Trust, will display Guercino’s painting Lucretia, on loan from a private collection, alongside two early manuscripts of the cantata La Lucretia by Handel.
- Any age
Hogarth and Copyright: In Focus Display
- 24 September 2013 — 5 January 2014 *on now
Hogarth is commonly remembered as a great painter, engraver and satirist, but he was also a man with strong ideas about the nature of art and the place of the artist in society. This display explores Hogarth’s role in the passage of the 1735 Engravers’ Copyright Act, also known as “Hogarth’s Act”. The first law to protect artists’ rights over their work, it marked a fundamental shift in the development of what we now call “intellectual property”.
- Any age
Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood and Loss
- Until 5 January 2014 *on now
- From 11 October 2013
Four contemporary photographers explore the theme of loss in the relationship between mother and child. Set within the emotionally resonant context of the Foundling Museum, Home Truths explores issues that are complex and familiar, haunting and thought-provoking.
Curator Susan Bright has selected work by Ann Fessler (b. 1950, USA), Tierney Gearon (b. 1963, USA), Miyako Ishiuchi (b. 1947, Japan) and Annu Palakunnathu Matthew (b. 1964, Britain), who use photography in a variety of ways: by digitising vernacular photographs, drawing on documentary and experimental film practice or as a trace.
The companion show Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood and Identity is on display at The Photographers’ Gallery from 11 October to 5 January 2014.
Home Truths is supported by the Home Truths Supporters’ Circle, and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.
- 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.