The Foundling Museum

The Foundling Museum We celebrate the work of artists to make positive change in the lives of vulnerable children. Supported by Arts Council England.

We are the Foundling Museum, telling the story of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and first public art gallery. We use our art and objects to keep the Foundling story alive and relevant. Like our artist founders Handel and Hogarth, we believe creative action has the power to transform lives and shape a better future. So, we are activists, giving today’s artists a platform

to explore issues and ideas that speak to everyone. To keep up to date with our latest exhibitions, events and more, join our mailing list: https://bit.ly/3PF3oPP

Fancy an opportunity to explore the Foundling Museum’s historic collection in a new light, led by an expert?Then why not...
06/01/2024

Fancy an opportunity to explore the Foundling Museum’s historic collection in a new light, led by an expert?

Then why not join our curator's tour of our ⭐⭐⭐⭐ exhibition, 'The Mother and the Weaver'? Tanya Barson (Senior Director of Hauser & Wirth) will describe how the exhibition was put together, the inspiration behind the curatorial choices, and the lives of the artists on display.

Book your tickets here: https://ow.ly/fcQR50QnQA1

📷 by Fernando Manoso

Polishing off the last of Christmas cake before the New Year officially starts...We hope you all have a wonderful last f...
31/12/2023

Polishing off the last of Christmas cake before the New Year officially starts...

We hope you all have a wonderful last few hours of 2023 - we'll see you in 2024! 🎆

🖼️ Emma Brownlow, 1877

🎵We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas!🎵Best festive wishes from the Foundling Museum team - may ...
25/12/2023

🎵We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas!🎵

Best festive wishes from the Foundling Museum team - may your days be merry and bright!

"T'was the night before Christmas..."Happy Christmas Eve! We hope your evening is as cosy as the Foundling lamb's looks ...
24/12/2023

"T'was the night before Christmas..."

Happy Christmas Eve! We hope your evening is as cosy as the Foundling lamb's looks here!

🖼️ by Angela Barrett, 2019

We had such a special night at The Princess of Wales' 2023 "Together at Christmas" carol service with Early Childhood. T...
21/12/2023

We had such a special night at The Princess of Wales' 2023 "Together at Christmas" carol service with Early Childhood. This year's carol service at Westminster Abbey was all about and the importance of early years. You can join us too by tuning in to ITV at 7.45pm this Christmas Eve.

Thank you to The Prince and Princess of Wales for having us!

Over the past few months, we've been working with Think and Do Camden to help ReWild local schools. Not only has it been...
20/12/2023

Over the past few months, we've been working with Think and Do Camden to help ReWild local schools. Not only has it been a lot of fun, but it's a big step towards the Foundling Museum's goal of achieving net zero by 2030. ♻️🌼🌳

We can't wait to see the fruits of our labour in the spring!

Planning on visiting us this weekend? Enjoy a special look at our history and collection by joining one of our drop-in t...
15/12/2023

Planning on visiting us this weekend?

Enjoy a special look at our history and collection by joining one of our drop-in tours. Each tour is led by our passionate volunteer guides who can tell you things about our story that you may otherwise miss. Choose between...

📖 The history of the Foundling Hospital tour at 11.30am
📖 Paintings in the Picture Gallery and Court Room tour at 12.30am
📖 Handel and the Gerald Coke Handel Collection tour at 12.30am

Tours are limited to ten people and places are secured on a first-come-first-serve basis. Be sure to show up on time for a chance to join in.

Learn more: https://ow.ly/Mons50QhTgu

📸 Photograph © Fernando Manoso

Few documents give us as much insight into Handel's personal life as his will. Beyond telling us about the celebrated co...
14/12/2023

Few documents give us as much insight into Handel's personal life as his will. Beyond telling us about the celebrated composer's assets and possessions, this historic document gives us a rare glimpse into...

⭐ His close friendships and relationships
⭐ His generosity and philanthropic spirit
⭐ His possible tendency to hold a grudge!

And much more....

Discover Handel in a new way at our current display, 'Handel's Will: Love & Legacy'.

🎄 We're simply having a wonderful Christmas time 🎄We were thrilled to host a joyful Christmas card-making workshop with ...
13/12/2023

🎄 We're simply having a wonderful Christmas time 🎄

We were thrilled to host a joyful Christmas card-making workshop with illustrator Annabel Pearl. Here are some behind-the-scenes snaps of all the fun that was had!

Sign up to our mailing list to hear about future creative workshops for adults and families 🖌️ https://bit.ly/3PF3oPP

📸 Photographs © Wilkie Branson

12/12/2023

"...I think it would have been rather lovely to have been able to see, and maybe hold, the token that my birth mother left for me."

❤️ Here's a video of former Foundling Hospital pupil Lydia Carmichael talking about the moving tokens left by mothers entrusting their babies in the Hospital's care.

⭐️ Coming soon in Spring 2024 ⭐️Our next exhibition ‘Leaving Ukraine’ highlights the lived experiences and complex chall...
05/12/2023

⭐️ Coming soon in Spring 2024 ⭐️

Our next exhibition ‘Leaving Ukraine’ highlights the lived experiences and complex challenges faced by people forced to flee their homes following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. Featuring photographs and films by , the exhibition follows four stories set against the backdrop of war and displacement.

🗓️ Mark your calendars: the exhibition opens on 15 March 2024.

📸 Polly Braden Sofiia, 17, at home in Gipf-Oberfrick, Switzerland, July 2022 © Polly Braden

 This exterior view of the London Foundling Hospital was captured in the early 1900s, perhaps not long before the Hospit...
30/11/2023



This exterior view of the London Foundling Hospital was captured in the early 1900s, perhaps not long before the Hospital moved sites and the original building was demolished.

The architecture is undeniably beautiful, but you need far more than just a pretty exterior to make a child feel at home.

📸 courtesy of Coram

Say cheese 🎇This photograph depicts a woman named Frances Flint and five of the foundlings she fostered. Flint was one o...
21/11/2023

Say cheese 🎇

This photograph depicts a woman named Frances Flint and five of the foundlings she fostered.

Flint was one of the "nurses" employed by the Foundling Hospital to act as a foster mother for foundlings under the age of five. This was a paid job that offered women a means of making an income without taking them away from their domestic duties.

Our Introductory Gallery includes a new display that gives us insight into the significance of the Hospital nurses and the inspectors who oversaw them. Keep an eye out when you visit us next!

📸 Frances Flint, foster mother, East Peckham, c.1900. Courtesy Coram

15/11/2023

Come and see our ★★★★ exhibition ‘The Mother and the Weaver’ 🕷️🕸️

This exhibition takes the unseen mother, a central part of the Foundling Museum’s story, as a point of departure to explore complex ideas around motherhood, childhood, love, loss, sexuality and identity.

Occupying the whole museum, this landmark exhibition shows works from the Ursula Hauser Collection, in conversation with historic objects and works of art from the Foundling Museum’s collection.

🖼️ Artwork credits in video

If you're looking for a joyful Christmas card with a story to tell, look no further! Our 2023 card, created by illustrat...
14/11/2023

If you're looking for a joyful Christmas card with a story to tell, look no further! Our 2023 card, created by illustrator Annabel Pearl, sensitively references the Foundling Hospital story with a sprinkle of holiday cheer.

🐑 The sweet lamb is inspired by the Hospital's coat of arms, designed by William Hogarth.
🎀 The objects surrounding the critter reference the precious tokens left behind by the mothers entrusting their babies in the Hospital's care.

Buy the card via the link in our bio. All proceeds go towards supporting our vital work, transforming the lives of disadvantaged children through the arts.

Get yours here: https://ow.ly/mSZn50Q7uAS

🖼️ Illustration © Annabel Pearl

Lest we forget.This memorial plaque, colloquially known as a 'Dead Man's Penny', was issued in memory of George Onslow, ...
11/11/2023

Lest we forget.

This memorial plaque, colloquially known as a 'Dead Man's Penny', was issued in memory of George Onslow, Private 6139 and a former Foundling Hospital pupil.

George died on Friday, 31 October 1914, aged just 23.

Dead Man's Pennies were traditionally sent to the families of those who died during the First World War, but as George had no known next of kin, his plaque was sent to the Foundling Hospital.

We hope you all have a peaceful Remembrance Day.

Happy 120th Birthday Art Fund! 🎂🎈🎁Their funding was essential in helping us to acquire William Hogarth's stunning March ...
08/11/2023

Happy 120th Birthday Art Fund! 🎂🎈🎁

Their funding was essential in helping us to acquire William Hogarth's stunning March of the Guards to Finchley back in 2005. All these years later, we're still spotting new details!

What's your favourite part of the painting?

Discover the story behind a special artefact that gives us rare insight into Handel's personal life – his last will and ...
07/11/2023

Discover the story behind a special artefact that gives us rare insight into Handel's personal life – his last will and testament.

Our new Handel Gallery display takes a closer look at this historic document, uncovering surprising details about the maestro's personal and professional life.

Be sure to see this fascinating display when you visit us next! Entry is included with museum admission.

🖼️ Messiah part for the Foundling Hospital, copied as instructed in Handel's will

We're wrapping up   with the story of Miles Cooke, a black child admitted to the Foundling Hospital in 1743. On his bill...
25/10/2023

We're wrapping up with the story of Miles Cooke, a black child admitted to the Foundling Hospital in 1743. On his billet, Miles was described as having a 'Dark olive complexion like a Moor' with 'long black hair.' He was wetnursed by a woman named Joanna Stevens of Chalfont in Buckinghamshire.

At age seven, he contracted measles but survived his childhood in spite of this illness. At just eleven years old, he began his apprenticeship with a mariner named Francis Thwaite. The record states that he was bound to serve his new master until he turned 24 and would be paid £5 per annum after he turned 21.

Foundlings were apprenticed in adolescence to a master or mistress who would train them in a particular trade or in 'household business.' After completing their apprenticeships and gaining independence, most Foundling children disappear from the Hospital’s records, which is frustratingly the case with Miles. The destinations of African and Asian children were not affected by their race, but instead were typical for all Foundlings. They had both good and bad experiences at the hands of their masters and mistresses.

📸 Image courtesy of Coram

Looking for some calming classical compositions to warm your soul as the nights draw in? 🎶🌝🎹Join us at 7pm on 17 Novembe...
21/10/2023

Looking for some calming classical compositions to warm your soul as the nights draw in? 🎶🌝🎹

Join us at 7pm on 17 November for an evening concert celebrating the extraordinary life and work of Marie Sallé, one of the first female choreographers. Her sensational appearances were performed across stages in Paris and London, with her innovative and daring dances accompanied with music by Handel, Rameau and Rebel.

Book your tickets here before they dance away!

https://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/event/the-dancing-star-a-concert/

If you're visiting us this weekend, head to our Handel Gallery to be the first to see our new display, 'Handel's Will: L...
20/10/2023

If you're visiting us this weekend, head to our Handel Gallery to be the first to see our new display, 'Handel's Will: Love and Legacy'.

You'll discover the composer's will, one of the only documents that gives us insight into his personal life, relationship, and benevolent spirit. Learn more and book your visit 👉 https://bit.ly/406Vxiw

Did you know that thimbles were among the most common items in women's pockets in the eighteenth century? They tell us a...
18/10/2023

Did you know that thimbles were among the most common items in women's pockets in the eighteenth century?

They tell us about the prevalence of needlework as a livelihood for women. Surprisingly, they were also often exchanged as tokens between friends and lovers 🧵💛

This squashed thimble was left with a baby boy admitted to the Foundling Hospital in 1759. It shows clear signs of wear and is made of silver, indicating that parting with it was an act of sacrifice for the mother.

Historian Ariane Fennetaux shares the significance of this humble artefact on the 'Tokens of Style' episode of our podcast, 'Take this Token'.

Listen here: https://bit.ly/422dKOc

BOO! 👻Spooky season is fast approaching, and that means Halloween high jinks! 🦇🎃🕸️From sculpting to printing to weaving,...
10/10/2023

BOO! 👻

Spooky season is fast approaching, and that means Halloween high jinks! 🦇🎃🕸️

From sculpting to printing to weaving, there's something for every family at our creative half-term workshops. 🧛 Click here to find out more and book your spot: https://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/event/october-half-term-workshops/

Would you believe this beautiful print is actually a concert ticket? 🏵️This ornate ticket allowed patrons entry to the '...
06/10/2023

Would you believe this beautiful print is actually a concert ticket? 🏵️

This ornate ticket allowed patrons entry to the 'Concert of Antient Music', a popular eighteenth-century event, loved by the King himself.

Dive into the fascinating story behind this concert series at our display, 'Music for the King', set to close this weekend. A must-visit for fans of classical music🎼

Learn more and book your visit: https://bit.ly/3ZML247

October is Black History Month, and throughout the next few weeks, we'll be spotlighting the recently uncovered stories ...
01/10/2023

October is Black History Month, and throughout the next few weeks, we'll be spotlighting the recently uncovered stories of black Foundlings as well as the Foundling Hospital's colonial links.

This engraved mother-of-pearl token was left with a boy named James, whom the Hospital rechristened as Raymond Kent. His mother, Elizabeth Concannon, left her child at the Foundling Hospital in November, 1757, and the words 'late or now' suggest that she didn't know whether her baby's father was still in Jamaica, or whether he was even alive. Along with the token was a torn half of a printed page referring to a French general and naval commander, suggesting the child's father may have been a military man. In fact, a Lieutenant James Concannon was serving in the Royal Artillery at the time.

It was not unusual for women whose husbands were sent abroad in the army or navy to be left without an income. In notes left with many babies, mothers in this situation lament being unable to feed their children; Elizabeth Concannon might have been one such mother, or perhaps she didn't want to risk taking her son on the hazardous journey to Jamaica.

In 1757, Jamaica was under British colonial rule. Sugar was the country's main source of income, with Jamaica becoming the largest exporter of sugar in the British Empire. To sustain the labour-intensive cultivation of sugar cane, the British brought thousands of enslaved African people to the country and forced them to work in brutal conditions. If 'James Concannon Gent.' was in Jamaica in 1757, he was likely connected with the abhorrent sugar industry there, whether administering a plantation himself or providing military support to planters.

James and Elizabeth's son survived infancy and was later placed as an apprentice with a farmer and slater, John Burgin, of Thorpe Hesley in Yorkshire, to be 'employed in his business'.

🔍 An engraved mother-of-pearl token, reading 'James, son of James Concannon, Gent. Late or now of Jamaica, 1757'

It's time for a token 🕰️ This delicate strip of lace was left at the Foundling Hospital with a baby girl named Jane Edwa...
28/09/2023

It's time for a token 🕰️

This delicate strip of lace was left at the Foundling Hospital with a baby girl named Jane Edwards Letnee in the 1750s.

Could this relic be a cherished family keepsake? Historians have dated it to the seventeenth century, suggesting this could very much be the case.

Come and see this precious artefact in person at our new exhibition, 'The Mother & The Weaver: Art from the Ursula Hauser Collection'. Learn more and book your visit: https://bit.ly/3P8LQew

We’re so excited to announce that Lily Westcott has officially begun her PhD with us in partnership with Birkbeck, Unive...
26/09/2023

We’re so excited to announce that Lily Westcott has officially begun her PhD with us in partnership with Birkbeck, University of London.

Her research will examine the work of the Foundling Hospital in the mid-Victorian era (c.1830-1870) as part of a broader investigation of the representation of female sexuality and its regulation in the period. It will focus on the Hospital archive (currently held at the London Metropolitan Archives) as well as the Foundling Museum’s art collection.

We can’t wait to see what she uncovers.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  “This intimate exhibition puts women at the heart of the Foundling story” – The Times Come and see our exhibiti...
22/09/2023

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ “This intimate exhibition puts women at the heart of the Foundling story” – The Times

Come and see our exhibition, ‘The Mother and the Weaver: Art from the Ursula Hauser Collection’.

The show explores motherhood, childhood, love, loss and identity through contemporary art and widely loved treasures from the Foundling Hospital collection. It presents the Hospital’s story from the perspective of the unseen mother, shedding new light on an age-old story.

Lovers of art and history won’t want to miss this!

Learn about the show and book your visit: https://bit.ly/3P8LQew

🖼️ Louise Bourgeois, Spider V, 1999, Ursula Hauser Collection, Switzerland © The Easton Foundation / VAGA at ARS, NY and DACS, London 2023.

📷 Photographs by Fernando Manoso Borgas.

Address

40 Brunswick Square
London
WC1N1AZ

Opening Hours

Tuesday 10am - 5pm
Wednesday 10am - 5pm
Thursday 10am - 5pm
Friday 10am - 5pm
Saturday 10am - 5pm
Sunday 11am - 5pm

Telephone

+442078413600

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Our story

The Foundling Museum explores the history of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and first public art gallery. Through a dynamic programme of exhibitions and events, we celebrate 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. Make the most of your visit by hiring a guide, picking up a unique artist-designed souvenir in our Shop, or attending one of our many events from free lunchtime concerts to curator-led tours.

To keep up to date with our latest exhibitions, events and more join our mailing list: https://goo.gl/AMBqsa


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