The Messiah display case includes the programme from the first performance in Dublin in1742, a letter from Handel to the librettist Charles Jennens, and a manuscript score of Messiah given to the Foundling Hospital as part of Handel’s bequest. Portraits, print and sculptures are displayed alongside documents and ephemera which present the full context of Handel’s musical life in eighteenth-century London.
There are temporary displays relating to Handel and his contemporaries, and a table-top timeline places Handel in his musical, cultural and political context. Winged ‘musical chairs’ allow visitors to sit and listen to many hours of Handel’s music in comfort while browsing the programme notes and background information about the repertoire in the recordings played.
Visitors can see the majority of the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, with its many fine antiquarian bindings, through a glass wall to the environmentally controlled store. The Collection is open to all to use in the Reading Room by appointment.