The Foundling Museum explores the history of the Foundling Hospital, which continues today as the children's charity Coram, the UK’s first children’s charity and first public art gallery.
The moving story of the Hospital and the children who grew up there is revealed through the artworks, objects and archival documents on display in the Museum.
Artists who donated work to the Foundling Hospital include William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds and John Michael Rysbrack. Paintings, sculpture, furniture and ceramics are displayed in beautiful eighteenth-century interiors, reconstructed from the original Hospital building.
Shown alongside the art are poignant artefacts which reveal lives of the children and the desperation of the mothers who gave them up. These include the small everyday objects, or ‘tokens’, left by women with their babies in the eighteenth century, as well as admission records, text books, uniforms, and the testimony of former pupils of the Foundling Hospital School in the twentieth century.
The Museum also holds the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, an internationally-important collection of material relating to Handel and his contemporaries. The Collection of around 10,000 items includes manuscript and printed scores, libretti, books, periodicals, programmes, artworks, sound recordings and ephemera. Key items on display include Handel’s Will and the manuscript score of Messiah bequeathed to the Hospital.