When the Coronavirus pandemic forced the Foundling Museum to close in March 2020, we looked for new ways to make our Collections available online and to stay connected with communities at the heart of the Museum’s life, namely our volunteers, care-experienced trainees and graduates of our Tracing Our Tales programme, and the former pupils of the Foundling Hospital. The result is Shared Stories, Shared Voices, a collection of highly personal responses to objects on display in the Museum, made by people who have a deep connection with the stories they tell.

With the help of the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund – delivered by the Museums Association – Shared Stories, Shared Voices was developed through a series of artist-led workshops, run online through video calls, with participants working safely in their own homes. What you see here are the results.

Click on an object image to find out more about the item, and to hear the shared stories and diverse voices of the Foundling Museum community.

A painting by Henry Nelson of A Mother Depositing Her Child at the Foundling Hospital in Paris. The image depicts a mother, tired and exhausted, outside the Foundling Hospital in Paris wearing a red dress with her bonnet on the floor beside her feet.
She is desperate, she is tired…
It wasn’t an easy decision...
That is a powerful thing to say...
It represents somebody’s life...
Wonderful, decorative, textural, tactile qualities...
I was given a new name quite early on...
This made me feel unsure about who I was...
These two tears on the mother’s face...
Because it was for me, it was mine...
At least he was free, and we were bound by the rules...
The image shows an original bed from The Foundling Hospital (black, metal, with neatly made white sheets) on display in the Introductory Gallery of The Foundling Museum.
Everyone in the hostel had the same stuff...
For all you think it won’t happen, you still have hope...
You did have this identity confusion...
My experiences of growing up were very similar...
I felt like they stripped the identity away from me...
I wonder how many hidden stories there are...
This feeling of escaping...
A painting of the first female Governor of The Foundling Hospital. She is sitting side profile, in a chair, wearing a dark coloured gown, with her brown hair neatly arranged on top of her head.
It probably took quite a bit of strength to do that...
I’m one of Coram’s children...

Supported by The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund – delivered by the Museums Association.

Thanks also to

Project participants: Former pupils of the Foundling Hospital: Clive, Eleanor, Henry, John, Ruth; Tracing Our Tales graduates: Nia, Rohima, Shereka, Sofia; Volunteers: Anne, Bridget, Brigid, Christine, Eliza, Gillian, Jenny, Kirsty, Lin, Lindi, Molly, Penny, Robin, Sheila, Sue

Project artists: Emma Crouch, Emma Middleton

Film-makers: Wilkie Branson, Emma Crouch, Will Jacob

Project Management: Lindsey Dear

Development Consultant: Stephanie Dennison

Project research: Janette Bright, with the assistance of Gillian Clark

Project Evaluation: Tom Henri

Support for Emma Middleton: Jan Cullen