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
- 6 June — 7 September 2014 *on now
Four contemporary artists respond to Hogarth’s masterpiece.
To mark the 250th anniversary of Hogarth’s death, Progress brings together for the first time three great contemporary responses to his eternally modern moral tale, A Rake’s Progress. David Hockney’s A Rake’s Progress, 1961-3, Yinka Shonibare MBE’s Diary of a Victorian Dandy, 1998, and Grayson Perry’s The Vanity of Small Differences, 2012, are shown alongside Hogarth’s original 1735 prints and joined by a newly commissioned work by Jessie Brennan.
Hogarth’s popularity with both artists and the public has endured for over two hundred years, and his work has provided inspiration to successive generations. Hockney, Shonibare and Perry not only update Hogarth’s searing social commentary, they also add their own personal concerns to the creative dialogue. Commissioning an emerging female artist to respond to Hogarth’s work, the Foundling Museum further develops the conversation.
Exploring issues of sexuality, race, class, vice, temptation, youth and urban living this exhibition both highlights Hogarth’s continuing relevance and allows us to consider the idea of ‘progress’.
Progress is supported by Arts Council England.
- Any age
Free with Museum admission
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.