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


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

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.
An illustration of Peter Pan, Wendy and the Lost Boys in the clearing of a wood

Drawing on Childhood

  • 22 January — 1 May 2016 *on now

Drawing on Childhood brings together the work of major illustrators from the eighteenth century to the present day, who have created powerful images of characters in fiction who are orphaned, adopted, fostered or found.

The exhibition considers how illustrators of different generations have chosen key moments in stories from European folklore and fiction, and brought these child heroes to life. Exploring alternative childhoods, the show is been inspired by Lemn Sissay’s 2014 Foundling Museum commission, Superman was a Foundling, which focused on the importance of looked-after children in popular culture.

Original drawings, first editions and special illustrated editions will be on display, featuring characters as diverse as James Trotter (James and the Giant Peach) who was orphaned as a young boy, Hetty Feather, who lived at the Foundling Hospital, and Rapunzel, whose parents gave her up as a child. Two original illustrations by Nancy Ekholm Burkert for the 1961 edition of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach will be exhibited, alongside Arthur Rackham’s original 1919 drawing of Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother. Major illustrators and artists whose work will be on display include Quentin Blake, George Cruikshank, David Hockney, Phiz (Hablot K. Browne), Arthur Rackham, Thomas Rowlandson, Nick Sharratt and Stref.

To accompany the loaned works, the contemporary artists Pablo Bronstein, Chris Haughton and Posy Simmonds have been invited to produce a new illustration for Henry Fielding’s novel The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling, first published in 1749.

Suitable for

  • Any age
  • Family friendly


The Foundling Museum
40 Brunswick Square

Getting there

Tube or Train
We are less than 5 minutes’ walk from Russell Square underground station. Alternatively, King’s Cross St Pancras and Euston stations are approximately 10 minutes’ walk from the Museum.

The nearest buses are the 7, 59, 68, 91, 98, 168 and 188 from Russell Square Station.

Please contact Transport for London for detailed travel advice.

Cycling is recommended as an alternative mode of transport. The nearest docking stations for Santander Cycle Hire are located at Brunswick Square and Russell Square Station.

Visitors are encouraged to use public transport where possible. There is an NCP carpark at the Brunswick Centre for visitors wishing to travel by car, please contact them directly for more information.

Blue Badge parking is available outside the Museum, for more details on disabled access please see our Access page below.

Services and facilities

Additional info

We are committed to making our facilities accessible to all visitors.

Visitors with disabilities are entitled to the concessionary rate. Carers of those with disabilities are admitted free of charge.

Visitors with a Blue Badge for disabled parking may park on the single yellow line for up to 3 hours or in the residents' bays outside the Museum entrance. Blue Badges must be displayed at all times.

The Museum has ramped access, a lift to all floors, accessible toilets and a cloakroom. A wheelchair is available on request, and visitors are encouraged to book in advance. For more information please call 020 7841 3600


All exhibitions and displays are included within Museum admission

Adults £8.25 (including voluntary Gift Aid donation of 75p)
Concessions £5.50 (including voluntary Gift Aid donation of 50p)
Children (up to sixteen years), Art Fund members and Foundling Friends visit FREE

The small voluntary donation enables us, thanks to Gift Aid, to reclaim the tax you pay on the whole entry fee if you are a UK tax payer. Adults £7.50 and concessions £5 without donation


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 Foundling Hospital billet book, for recording admissions

Foundling Sunday

  • 1 May 2016 2-4pm

Dr Rebecca Davies examines the more active role of eighteenth-century women in their children’s upbringing and education, comparing depictions of the maternal role in fiction with archival accounts of real mothers. Her research places a particular focus on mothers who were separated from their children, due to conflicting social obligations or the will of the father. Her talk will examine maternal advice in letters to children away at school and legacies left by mothers in anticipation of their death, alongside novels from the period.

Following the talk, pianist Gisela Meyer performs a selection of works by Mussorgsky in the Picture Gallery, including The Seamstress, A Tea and Gopak of Joyful Fellows (Sorochintsky Fair).

Dr Rebecca Davies is a Teaching Fellow in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. She is the author of Written Maternal Authority and Eighteenth-Century Education in Britain: Educating by the Book (Ashgate, 2014), an investigation of the inconsistent literary representation of mothers in educative fiction of the Enlightenment era.

Suitable for

  • 18+


Free with Museum admission
£8.25 adults, £5.50 concessions


The Fallen Woman Exhibition

The Fallen Woman: Then and Now

  • 21 May 2016 From 2pm

Join Lynda Nead, curator of the Museum’s recent exhibition The Fallen Woman, and Jenny Earle, Programme Director at the Prison Reform Trust, for a discussion on the hidden stories of vulnerable women in the nineteenth century and today.

Professor Lynda Nead is the Pevsner Professor of History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London. In 2015 she curated The Fallen Woman at the Foundling Museum, a major exhibition exploring the myth and reality of the ‘fallen woman’ in Victorian Britain. This exhibition drew together the work of artists including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Richard Redgrave, George Frederic Watts and Thomas Faed, with the written petitions of Victorian women applying to give up their babies to the Foundling Hospital.

Jenny Earle is Programme Director at the Prison Reform Trust, leading a three-year programme to reduce women’s imprisonment, funded by the Big Lottery Fund. She joined the Prison Reform Trust in September 2012, having previously worked as a senior legal policy analyst at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, where she specialised in gender equality.

Suitable for

  • 18+


Tickets to this event are free but booking is essential.


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.

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
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.