Our Introductory Gallery includes a range of key objects which tell the story of the Foundling Hospital, including the original 1739 Royal Charter for the Foundling Hospital; a display of the identifying tokens left by mothers; sound recordings from our Foundling Voices collection; uniforms, crockery and other items from daily life at the Hospital; and the Subscription Roll, illustrated by William Hogarth. The Gallery concludes with a display of art from our contemporary artists’ projects with young people.
The works of art made and donated by artists such as Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds and John Michael Rysbrack are mainly displayed within original eighteenth-century interiors from the Foundling Hospital. When the Hospital was demolished in 1926 and relocated out of London, the Committee Room, Court Room, Picture Gallery and staircase were reconstructed in what was the charity’s London headquarters and is now the Museum. The furnishings of these rooms, including the plasterwork, fireplaces, furniture and clocks, were also made for and donated to the Hospital by leading craftsmen of the day.
In our Handel Gallery you can see objects from the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, including Handel’s will, and the manuscript score of Messiah which he bequeathed to the Foundling Hospital.
The Museum also has a programme of changing exhibitions and displays which feature throughout the building, as well as in our temporary exhibition gallery. These often involve responses from contemporary artists of all kinds to our Collection and story, shown alongside Collection objects.