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.
Installation view of Hetty's Hospital

Hetty’s Hospital

  • 25 May — 5 November 2017 *on now

Patients and their parents on the oncology and hematology wards at Great Ormond Street worked with artist Davina Drummond and our Curator of Artists’ Projects to explore acts of kindness in hospital. The project was inspired by the lack of kindness experienced by Jacqueline Wilson’s fictional foundling Hetty Feather at the Foundling Hospital, as well as by author Jacqueline Wilson’s own experiences of kind acts. The display includes recordings of children recalling acts of goodwill they have received from doctors, nurses and family. In partnership with GOSH Arts

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free with Museum admission

Website

http://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/hettys-hospital/

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/

Opera Singers, c.1724 (detail), attributed to William Hogarth © Gerald Coke Handel Foundation

Handel’s Rodelinda

  • 26 October — 15 November 2017

We display libretto from the opera’s first performance, alongside early manuscripts and a programme for a 1920 performance of Rodelinda, the first twentieth-century revival of a Handel opera.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free with Museum admission

Website

http://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/handels-rodelinda/

Scene and Heard

Writeback

  • 7 November 2017 — 21 January 2018

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.
Detail from William Hogarth, March of the Guards to Finchley, 1750. The Foundling Museum

Independent Women: Courtesans & Prostitutes in the Georgian Era

  • 21 October 2017 3-4pm *on now

In this talk, Hallie Rubenhold sheds new light on the exploitation and abuse of women which transformed the work of artist Joseph Highmore in the 1740s. A critically-acclaimed author, social historian, broadcaster and historical consultant for TV and film, she has written two works of non-fiction; Lady Worsley’s Whim which became the 2015 BBC Two drama, The Scandalous Lady W and The Covent Garden Ladies, which served as the inspiration for the ITV Encore series, Harlots. Part of the Bloomsbury Festival.

Suitable for

  • 18+
  • 16-17

Admission

Tickets £5, £3 concessions + Museum admission
Tickets can be purchased in advance, Museum admission on the day

Website

http://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/independent-women-georgian-era/

Roundels from the Court Room of the Foundling Museum

Art, Charity & the Navy: The Greenwich & Foundling Hospitals

  • 30 October 2017 9:30am-6pm

The Foundling Hospital and the Greenwich Royal Hospital are eighteenth-century institutions with many similarities, both charitable hospitals with strong ties to maritime Britain. The Foundling Hospital was the first children’s charity in Britain, established by Royal Charter in 1739 by Captain Thomas Coram, a shipwright in the American colonies. The Royal Hospital for Seamen, Greenwich, was established by Royal Charter in 1694 and from 1712 also incorporated a naval school. Along with presentations and discussion with expert speakers, the day includes:

A tour of the Chapel at the Old Royal Naval College, formerly the place of worship for the inhabitants of the Royal Hospital for Seamen
The opportunity to see our historic Court Room and Picture Gallery, displaying works of art by Hogarth, Gainsborough, Highmore, Ramsay and many others
A visit to our exhibition Basic Instincts
Lunch, tea and coffee, and early evening drinks reception
Speakers include: Will Palin, Director of Conservation, ORNC; Christine Riding, Head of Arts and Curator of the Queen’s House; Caro Howell, Director of the Foundling Museum; and Dr Jacqueline Riding, Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, and Curator of the exhibition Basic Instincts.

In partnership with Royal Museums Greenwich

Suitable for

  • 18+

Admission

Tickets £50, £40 concessions & Foundling Friends

Website

http://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/art-charity-navy-greenwich-foundling-hospitals/

Visitor in the Court Room at the Foundling Museum

BSL Tour

  • 4 November 2017 11am-12pm

Guide Alan Murray leads visitors through the Museum’s galleries and period rooms, and brings the 200-year history of the Foundling Hospital to life. To book a place email enquiries@foundlingmuseum.org.uk.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

Free with Museum admission, booking essential

Website

http://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/bsl-tour/

Joseph Highmore, detail of Pamela in the Bedroom with Mrs Jewkes and Mr B, 1743-44 © Tate, London 2015

Basic Instincts: Art, Women & Sexuality in the Eighteenth Century

  • 20 November 2017 10am-5pm

Drawing on the themes of love, friendship, passion and violence in our exhibition Basic Instincts, this symposium uses the art of Joseph Highmore and his contemporaries to explore depictions of women and sexuality in eighteenth-century culture. Chaired by Dr Kate Retford, Head of Birkbeck’s Department of History of Art, the day includes a keynote talk by Highmore expert Dr Jacqueline Riding. Full programme to be announced.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Tickets £40, £30 concessions & Foundling Friends

Website

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

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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