Our temporary exhibitions explore different aspects of the Foundling Hospital story and our Collections, ranging from historic themed shows to contemporary commissions and installations

Sir Jacob Epstein: Babies and Bloomsbury

30 January - 10 May 2015

"... delightful. It brings us into contact with the private, domestic side of Epstein's life and art" - Richard Dorment, The Telegraph

Sir Jacob Epstein (1880 - 1959), pioneer of modernism and distinguished portrait sculptor, made many portraits of children throughout his career. This exhibition, curated by Gill Hedley, explored Epstein's love of children as a subject matter by bringing together a selection of his moving bronzes and drawings of babies and children. Read more.

The Generous Georgian: Dr Richard Mead

26 September 2014 - 4 January 2015

"fascinating" - The Economist

Exploring Dr Richard Mead (1673-1754) ‘in the round’, as a collector, philanthropist and physician, this exhibition brought to light the Foundling Hospital’s relationship with a truly remarkable individual who, according to his contemporary Samuel Johnson, “lived more in the sunshine of life than almost any man”


6 June - 7 September 2014

"mobile, dynamic... it imparts a feeling of translation, of conversation" - Jenny Uglow, The Guardian

To mark the 250th anniversary of Hogarth’s death, Progress brought together for the first time three great contemporary responses to his eternally modern moral tale, A Rake’s Progress.  David Hockney’s A Rake’s Progress, 1961-3, Yinka Shonibare MBE’s Diary of a Victorian Dandy, 1998, and Grayson Perry’s The Vanity of Small Differences, 2012, are shown alongside Hogarth’s original 1735 prints and joined by a newly-commissioned work by Jessie Brennan.

By George! Handel’s Music for Royal Occasions

7 February - 18 May 2014

In the 300th anniversary year of the coronation of George I, the first Hanoverian king, this exhibition explored Handel's close associations with the British monarchy. Zadok the Priest has been performed at every coronation since that of King George II in 1727, and Handel's Water Music was performed in 2012 on the River Thames for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The exhibition featured treasures from the Museum's Gerald Coke Handle Collection as well as loans from the British Library, British Museum, National Portrait Gallery and never before seen items from the archives of Westminster Abbey.

Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood and Loss

11 October 2013 - 5 January 2014

Four contemporary photographers explored the theme of loss in the relationship between mother and child. Home Truths, curated by Susan Bright, set the work of Ann Fessler, Tierney Gearon, Miyako Ishiuchi and Annu Palakunnathu Matthew's within the emotionally resonant context of the Foundling Museum and explored issues that are complex and familiar, haunting and thought-provoking.

A companion show, Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood and Identity, was on display at The Photographer's Gallery from October 2013 to January 2014.

Exchange: 1,000 Good Deeds

14 June - 15 September 2013

This site-specific commission from acclaimed British ceramic artist Clare Twomey gave visitors the opportunity to take home a unique work of art, but only on condition they carry out a specific good deed - revealed only when a cup was selected. Inspired by the acts of exchange and charity implicit in the Foundling Hospital story, Twomey worked with children in care, local residents and former pupils of the Foundling Hospital to devise over 1,000 of these good deeds.

Some of these deeds have been posted by participants on Tumblr

Fate, Hope & Charity

25 January - 19 May 2013

This exhibition brought to light the untold stories of the tokens, small everyday objects left by mothers with their babies at the Foundling Hospital in the eighteenth century. These tokens, which include coins, jewellery, buttons, poems, playing cards and a simple nut are testaments to the grief of separation and the timeless bond between a mother and child.

Fate, Hope and Charity was accompanied by a newly-commissioned publication exploring the tokens and their stories with contributions from the artist David Shrigley, poet and novelist Jackie Kay and the DJ, poet and writer Charlie Dark - now available from the Museum shop.