The Foundling Museum in London tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, Britain’s first home for children at risk of abandonment. The museum houses the Foundling Hospital Collection as well as the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, an international collection of material on Handel and his contemporaries.
The museum explores the history of the Foundling Hospital, which continues today as the children’s charity Coram. Artists such as William Hogarth and the composer George Frideric Handel are central to the Hospital story, and today the museum celebrates how creative people have helped improve children’s lives for nearly 300 years.
The Foundling Hospital in London was founded in 1739 by the philanthropic sea captain Thomas Coram. It was a children’s home established for the “education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children.” The word “hospital” was used in a more general sense in the 1700s than it is today. It’s old meaning indicating the institution’s “hospitality” to those less fortunate.
One of the top priorities of the committee at the Foundling Hospital was children’s health, as they combated smallpox, fevers, consumption, dysentery and infections that led to high mortality rates. With the urgency and focus on a healthy environment, provision of essential clothing and food, the institution had minimal resources for the children’s education. Financial problems and needs hound the institution for years.
Fortunately, the Foundling Hospital became a fashionable charity which was supported by many well-known figures of the day in society and the arts. Its benefactors included some renowned artists, thanks to one of its most influential governors, the portrait painter and cartoonist William Hogarth. The composer George Frederic Handel held benefit concerts in the Hospital chapel to raise funds for the charity.
Exhibits of the Foundling Museum
- Foundling Hospital Collection
- Foundling Museum Collection
- Handel Collection
- The Committee Room
- The Picture Gallery
- The Court Room
- Museum: Foundling Museum
- City: London
- Country: United Kingdom
- Established: 2004
- Location: Brunswick Square, London, United Kingdom
Explore London’s Museums and Heritage Sites
- The British Museum
- The National Gallery, London
- Tate Britain
- The Wallace Collection
- The Victoria and Albert Museum
- Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace
- Courtauld Gallery
- Tate Modern, London
- Science Museum, London
- National Portrait Gallery, London
- Natural History Museum
- Charles Dickens Museum
- Hampton Court Palace
- Sherlock Holmes Museum
- British Library
- Imperial War Museum
- Churchill War Rooms
- Florence Nightingale Museum
- Foundling Museum
- Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy
“I should be sorry if I only entertained them. I wish to make them better.”
– George Frederic Handel
Photo Credit: JOM