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Foundling Museum

  • Museums
  • Bloomsbury
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Foundling Museum_CREDIT_© The Foundling Museum (4).jpg
© The Foundling Museum

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Opened in 2004 on the site of the original Foundling Hospital, Bloomsbury’s Foundling Museum tells the story of England’s first hospital for abandoned children, founded by philanthropist and campaigner Thomas Coram in 1739.

As well as looking after some 25,000 children during its 200 years in operation, the Foundling Hospital is also notable for housing the first public art gallery in the UK. Established through donations from leading artists including Gainsborough, Reynolds, Hudson and key supporter William Hogarth, the gallery was one of eighteenth century London’s most fashionable venues, and continues to be a source of revenue for Coram, the charity continuing the hospital’s important work today. Key pieces from the Foundling Collections are on display in the museum’s Picture Gallery, alongside loans and donations from contemporary artists including Tracey Emin and Yinka Shonibare.

Visitors can also view eighteenth-century interiors preserved from the original hospital, while a second floor gallery displays highglights from the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, including oil paintings, concert ephemera and a manuscript score of  ‘Messiah’The composer was another key figure involved in fundraising for the hospital during his lifetime – in 1750 he donated the chapel organ and from that year onwards the ‘Messiah’ was performed under his direction on an annual basis for the Hospital’s benefit.

The museum also stages temporary exhibitions on its lower ground floor, with recent subjects including the representation of foundlings in comic books, the untold stories of African and Asian children cared for by the hospital, and musical networking in Georgian London. 

Foundling Museum family trails and children’s activity backpacks are available at the reception desk.

Rosie Hewitson
Written by
Rosie Hewitson


40 Brunswick Square
View Website
Tube: Russell Square
£10.50, concs £8.25, under-21s free
Opening hours:
Tue-Sun 10am-5pm, closed Mon
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