When Thomas Coram established the Hospital in 1739, contemporary artists of the day stepped up to support the charity in its work of caring for society’s most vulnerable children.

Led by the painter William Hogarth, the artists, working in a wide variety of media, donated artwork including paintings, sculpture, elaborate plasterwork, furniture, clocks to decorate the Hospital’s interiors. In return, they were made artist Governors and attended an annual dinner in the Court Room. Here they talked about setting up a society for artists, which ultimately led to the establishment of the Royal Academy.

Today’s artists follow in the footsteps of Hogarth and his friends and often work in socially-engaged ways, seeking to change lives for the better with their practice. The Museum, right from its beginnings in 2004, has invited, collaborated with and supported artists to join with our mission. We now have a significant number of artworks by both leading and emerging contemporary artists in our Collections.