Explore new perspectives on what family is and can be, through this original, insightful exhibition that showcases the ongoing power of art to challenge and question the world around us.

Finding Family questioned the idea of family through art from the 17th Century to the present day. Looking at the ways in which artists have represented and responded to ideas of family, past and present, the exhibition presented a selection of historic and contemporary works of art that explored blood relations, social bonds, personal connections and love. The works were accompanied by creative writing by participants from Tracing Our Tales (the Museum’s award-winning programme for young care leavers) who had responded to the exhibition’s themes from the context of their own lived experience.

In partnership with the National Gallery, the exhibition included three iconic masterpieces from the Gallery’s collection, by Hogarth, Gainsborough and the Le Nain Brothers. Visitors were invited to look afresh at these well-loved works of art and to question their assumptions. These were shown alongside objects from the Foundling Museum’s collections, and paintings, drawings, photographs and sculpture by contemporary artists that reflect the many varied and complex versions of what and who family can be. Several newly commissioned works further enriched the exploration of what family means to different people. Contemporary artists featured in the exhibition included Louise Allen, Matthew Finn, Sunil Gupta, Chantal Joffe, Sikelela Owen, Hetain Patel, Barbara Walker, Caroline Walker and Gillian Wearing, alongside Helen Barff, Annabel Dover, Harold Offeh, Mark Titchner and Tamsin van Essen, who have created new work for the show.

Finding Family encouraged an exploration far beyond the idea of family in a nuclear sense, suggesting a broader, more inclusive definition that also invites us to consider where our own sense of connection and identity lie. If you think you know what family means, think again.

Finding Family supported by The Kusuma Trust and The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund – delivered by the Museums Association.

Above image: Sikelela Owen, The Owens, 2019 © The Artist

Watch our exhibition trailer here!

If you think you know what family means...

...another impressive exhibition by this small museum that regularly punches above its weight.  
Terrific – educational and moving.
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