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

Opening hours

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

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

Discounts

  • International Council of Museums
  • National Trust
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.
Chris Watson recording water

Dawn Chorus

  • 25 September 2014 — 10 May 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

  • Family friendly

Admission

Free with Museum admission

Website

http://www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/view/dawn-chorus-2014/

Handel

Portraits from the Royal Box

  • 30 January — 10 May 2015 *on now

This in-focus display brings together four rarely-exhibited portraits of Handel and his contemporaries Corelli, Geminiani and Daniel Purcell. On loan from the Royal Society of Musicians, these paintings once hung in King George III’s Royal box at the Concerts of Antient Music.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free with Museum admission

Website

http://www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/view/the-royal-box/

Baby Asleep

Sir Jacob Epstein: Babies and Bloomsbury

  • 30 January — 10 May 2015 *on now

Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959), pioneer of modernism and distinguished portrait sculptor, made many portraits of children throughout his career. This exhibition, curated by Gill Hedley, explores Epstein’s love of children as a subject matter by bringing together a remarkable selection of his moving bronzes and drawings of babies and children, including members of his own family.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free with Museum admission

Website

http://www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/view/babies-and-bloomsbury/

Foundling boys marching

Foundlings at War: Military Bands

  • 24 February — 10 May 2015 *on now

Foundlings at War is a major research project examining the Foundling Hospital’s historic links with the military. The Hospital was designed to prevent waste of life and create ‘useful’ citizens; between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries many foundling boys went directly from the institution into the military.

This in-focus display explores the rich history of the Foundling Hospital’s Boys’ Band, established in 1847. Boys joining the band increasingly went on to join military bands, serving in regiments and taking part in military conflicts around the world. With newly-researched archive items, instruments and music on display, we delve into their stories.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free with Museum admission

Website

http://www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/view/military-bands/

Edward Ives, Cartouche, carved wood

26 Pairs of Eyes

  • 4 June — 6 September 2015

These sestudes bring fresh perspectives to familiar objects and put those lesser-known in the spotlight.

Sestudes are displayed alongside the objects that inspired them, forming a trail of discovery through the Museum. These alternative stories for objects as diverse as the pencil that belonged to Hospital Secretary John Brownlow and George Frideric Handel’s Will, invite visitors to look at the Museum’s Collections and the Foundling Hospital’s history through 26 pairs of eyes.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Adult Museum Admission: £7.50
Concessionary Museum Admission: £5.00

Website

http://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/?whats-on=26-pairs-of-eyes

Napoleonic Wars

Foundlings at War: the Napoleonic Wars

  • 16 June — 4 October 2015

The Hospital was designed to prevent waste of life and create ‘useful’ citizens. Between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries many foundling boys went directly from the institution into the military.

This display explores the rich history of the Foundling Hospital Boys’ Band. Established in 1847, for many boys it became a route into regimental bands and service in military conflicts around the world. With newly-researched archive items and instruments on display, we reveal their stories.

Download the accompanying Foundlings at War iBook, free from the iTunes store.

Two further displays The Battle of Waterloo, May – Aug 2015 and Through the Ages, Sept 2015 – Jan 2016 complete the project.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Adult Museum Admission: £7.50
Concessionary Museum Admission: £5.00

Website

http://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/?whats-on=foundlings-at-war-military-bands

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.
The Selfish Giant

The Selfish Giant

  • 19 May 2015 7-9pm

Clio Barnard’s contemporary reworking of Oscar Wilde’s short story, The Selfish Giant (2013), is screened in partnership with the London Schools of Paediatrics, Public Health, and General Practice.

The story of Arbor and Swifty, two young boys living in a tough Bradford estate, is one of hand-to-mouth survival as they become entangled with scrap metal dealer Kitten.

Winner of the Europa Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013 and nominated for Best British Film at the 2014 BAFTA's.

The Foundling Museum's eighteenth century Picture Gallery provides a unique location to view this modern classic. Refreshments will be available for purchase.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with:

- Peter Wilson, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and Co-Founder of Young Minds

- Jason Strelitz, Assistant Director of Public Health, Camden & Islington and lead for maternity, children & young people

- Paul Brightly-Jones, Lead for School Exclusions for the London Borough of Croydon and Governor at Coulsdon College and Ark All Saints Academy in Southwark

Suitable for

  • 18+

Admission

Tickets £10, £8 concessions and Foundling Friends

Website

http://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/?whats-on=film-screening-the-selfish-giant

The Amade Players

The Amadè Players: the Combat of Human Passions

  • 20 May 2015 From 6:30pm

The Amadè Players, one of the UK’s most exciting period performance groups, explore love, death and the genius of youth through a selection of pieces by Mozart and the forgotten composers who inspired his music.

Performing on historical instruments, The Amadè Players revive a selection of lesser-known works which once injected new life, energy and accent into the Baroque tradition.

Programme to include:

Johann Stamic (1717-1757), Sinfonia a 4 in D major

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), Symphony No.1 in E flat major, KV.16

Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf (1739-1799), Il Combattimento dull’umane Passione

Johann Baptist Waṅhal (1739-1813), In Questa Tomba Obscura

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Tickets £14, £12 concessions and Foundling Friends

Website

http://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/?whats-on=the-amade-players-the-combat-of-human-passions

Steve Tilston

Folk at the Foundling: Steve Tilston

  • 29 May 2015 From 6:30pm

With a career spanning 40 years, he boasts an experimental sound wholly his own. Honest vocal delivery and subtle guitar playing set Tilston apart as one of folk’s most celebrated song-smiths.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Tickets £12
Concessions and Foundling Friends £10

Website

http://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/?whats-on=1169

The Foundling Hospital Courtroom

Lines of Beauty

  • 4 June — 6 September 2015

From small, beautifully-modelled relief panels to the Museum’s exuberant Rococo ceiling, Lines of Beauty casts a contemporary gaze upon the creation and preservation of the Foundling Museum’s exquisite interiors, alongside Preston’s own work in the Rococo style.

One of the UK’s leading architectural sculptors, and a specialist in decorative plasterwork, Preston led the team responsible for the pioneering restoration of the eighteenth-century hand-modelled stucco ceilings at Uppark House in West Sussex, which were destroyed by fire in 1989. This experience led him to re-examine the language of eighteenth-century form and to incorporate it in his own original work.

Lines of Beauty illuminates the art of modelling in clay through objects and photographs of some of Geoffrey’s principal commissions, including the award-winning Great Fulford in Devon, and recent work which is exhibited for the first time. New, large-scale works showcase the potential of these expressive materials while demonstrating how the Rococo style is guided fundamentally by proportion and geometry.

Drawings and models illustrate the creative process from initial sketch to completed work. Different materials and techniques are explained, from traditional stucco to modern moulding and casting methods, alongside a display of the artist’s tools and materials.

The exhibition also highlights the restoration of the Foundling Hospital Court Room and its stunning plasterwork, which was donated to the Hospital by Georgian craftsman and entrepreneur William Wilton in the 1740s. The plasterwork, furniture and furnishings were saved when the Foundling Hospital building was demolished in the 1920s, before being painstakingly restored in their current site at the Museum.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Adult Museum Admission: £7.50
Concessionary Museum Admission: £5.00

Website

http://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/?whats-on=lines-of-beauty

Geoffrey Preston modelling flowers

Artist's Talk: Geoffrey Preston & The Art of Plaster

  • 9 June 2015 2-2:45pm

Speaking about his own background and practice, he will give an insight into how his work in the exhibition Lines of Beauty was designed and made.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Adult Museum Admission: £7.50
Concessionary Museum Admission: £5.00

Website

http://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/?whats-on=artists-talk-geoffrey-preston-the-art-of-plaster

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

Fax

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.
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