The Foundling Museum

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.

Established in 1739 by philanthropist Thomas Coram, and continuing today as the children’s charity Coram, the Hospital was set up as an institution ‘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 leading artists of the day to donate work, and the composer George Frideric Handel, who gave annual benefit concerts of his Messiah. Through a dynamic programme of exhibitions and events, we celebrate their vision and the ways in which artists and children have inspired each other for over 275 years.

Discover the intriguing story behind this important London institution and the children who grew up there, alongside original period interiors, poignant artefacts and inspiring art. Pick up a unique, artist-designed souvenir in our Shop, or relax in our Café, offering a delicious selection of teas, coffees, cakes and light lunches.

Venue Type:

Museum, Gallery

Opening hours

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

Admission charges

£11* Adults
£8.25* Concessions

FREE for children (U16), Foundling Friends & National Art Pass holders

*Ticket prices include a voluntary Gift Aid donation

Discounts

  • International Council of Museums
  • National Trust
  • National Art Pass
  • Museums Association
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

http://www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk/visit-us/access/

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.
Oldest surviving score of Handel's Water Music

Handel’s Water Music

  • 7 July 2017 — 2 January 2018 *on now

Handel’s Water Music is a suite for orchestra composed for a party for King George I, held on the River Thames on 17 July 1717. The suite of twenty-two pieces so delighted the King that he requested that it be played three times during the evening, on his journey up the river from Lambeth to Chelsea, and back again in the early hours of the morning. This display uses manuscripts, printed music and artwork to explore the work’s popularity and the Georgian practice of water parties. At its centre is the earliest surviving source for the music, on loan from The Royal Society of Musicians, which was copied by two scribes close to Handel.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free with Museum admission

Website

http://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/handels-water-music/

Rachel Kneebone, Raft of the Medusa I, 2015 © Rachel Kneebone. Photo © Stephen White Courtesy White Cube

Raft of the Medusa

  • 29 September 2017 — 7 January 2018 *on now

We display a series of five previously unseen sculptures by acclaimed artist Rachel Kneebone, providing a resonant counterpoint to our exhibition Basic Instincts.

Rachel Kneebone is a British artist whose intricate works address and question the human condition. This Autumn a series of five porcelain sculptures will be displayed amongst the Museum’s historic Collection. Raft of the Medusa’s tumbling limbs and fractured swags are at once coquettish and ominous; their gleaming white surfaces and exquisite detail belie scenes of turmoil and collapse.

Using porcelain, a delicate material traditionally associated with fine tableware and Rococo exuberance (as exemplified by the plasterwork in the Museum’s Court Room), Kneebone subverts viewers’ expectations. Visibly exploiting the material properties of porcelain, she deliberately allows her works to distort and crack in the kiln, inviting the viewer to question the relationship between strength and vulnerability.

Shown amongst the Museum Collection, the works distil and abstract the Foundling Hospital’s suppressed narratives of sexual desire, emotional damage, and female strength, whilst also referencing ideas of displacement, refuge, and resilience.

Suitable for

  • 16-17
  • 18+

Website

http://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/raft-of-the-medusa/

Joseph Highmore, The Angel of Mercy, c1746. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Basic Instincts

  • 29 September 2017 — 7 January 2018 *on now

Curated by Dr Jacqueline Riding, Basic Instincts explores Georgian attitudes to love, desire and female respectability through the radical paintings of Joseph Highmore. A highly successful artist and Governor of London’s Foundling Hospital, Joseph Highmore (1692-1780) is best known as a portrait painter of the Georgian middle class. However, during the 1740s his art dramatically shifted as he turned his focus to societal attitudes towards women and sexuality. This first major Highmore exhibition for 50 years explores a ten-year period of disruptive commentary in his art, reflecting his engagement with the work of the new Foundling Hospital and its mission to support desperate and abused women.

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • 16-17

Admission

£11.00* Adults
£8.25* Concessions
FREE for children, Foundling Friends & National Art Pass holders

*Ticket prices include a voluntary Gift Aid donation

Website

http://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/basic-instincts/

Scene and Heard

Writeback

  • 7 November 2017 — 21 January 2018 *on now

Children from Somers Town and King’s Cross have crafted a brand new piece of theatre, documented in a film on display in the Introductory Gallery. Inspired by workshops at the Museum and the history of the Foundling Hospital, they devised interconnected scenes forming an innovative play, produced by professional theatre artists. Scene & Heard is a unique mentoring project that partners the inner-city children of Somers Town with volunteer theatre professionals, raising self-esteem and aspirations.

Writeback will be performed at Theatro Technis on 29-30 September. All tickets are free but booking is essential, available here from 1 September.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free with Museum admission

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.
Joseph Highmore, Hagar and Ishmael, 1746 © Coram in the care of the Foundling Museum.tif

Basic Instincts Curator Tour

  • 26 November 2017 3-4pm

Dr Jacqueline Riding, curator of our exhibition Basic Instincts, leads a tour for visitors. Discover the work of painter Joseph Highmore and his controversial painting of the 1740s which challenged Georgian attitudes to love, desire and female respectability. On public display in the UK for the first time as part of Basic Instincts is The Angel of Mercy (c.1746), a remarkable painting that still retains the power to shock.

Jacqueline Riding specialises in Georgian history and art. She read History and Art History at the universities of Leicester, London and York, and has over twenty-five years’ experience working as a curator and consultant within a broad range of museums, galleries and historic buildings, including the Guards Museum, Tate Britain and Historic Royal Palaces. From 1993–9 she was Assistant Curator of the Palace of Westminster and later founding Director of the Handel House Museum, London. She has published widely on early-Georgian art and history, including her major book Jacobites: A New History of the ’45 Rebellion (Bloomsbury 2016). She is currently writing a biography of William Hogarth (Head of Zeus). She was the consultant historian and art historian on Mike Leigh’s award-winning film Mr. Turner (2014) and is the consultant historian on his next feature film, Peterloo. Jacqueline Riding is Associate Research Fellow in the School of Arts, Birkbeck College, University of London and a Fellow of the Clore Leadership Programme.

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • 16-17

Admission

£11* Adults
£8.25* Concessions
FREE for children, Foundling Friends & National Art Pass holders

*Ticket prices include a voluntary Gift Aid donation

Website

https://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/basic-instincts-curator-tour/

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

http://www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk/children.php

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
London
Greater London
WC1N 1AZ
England

Website

www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk

E-mail

enquiries@foundlingmuseum.org.uk

Telephone

020 7841 3600

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.
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