FROM THE WEBSITE: The Foundling Museum tells the history of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and first public art gallery. We aim to inspire everyone to make a positive contribution to society, by celebrating the power of individuals and the arts to change lives.
Discover thought-provoking exhibitions, contemporary art commissions, collection displays and historic archives, plus a lively programme of concerts, workshops, talks and special events, all enjoyed within beautiful 18th-century interiors.
Artists are central to the Foundling Hospital story and the spirit of its Artist Governors lives on in the work of the many practitioners who support our programmes, from visual artists and film makers, to musicians and designers. They remind us that the arts do not just provide the visuals, the commentary and the soundtrack to our lives; they can change, challenge and improve them.
Alongside artworks, objects and archive documents that reveal the story of the Hospital, we present a diverse programme of exhibitions that offer different ways of engaging with our story, making creative links across the centuries. For over a decade we have showcased the work of celebrated artists, from William Hogarth and Paula Rego, to Grayson Perry, Tracy Emin and Cornelia Parker.
We host residencies, support research and initiate collaborative off-site projects with contemporary artists, writers and musicians, working with different members of the community to cast new light on the Foundling Hospital story. Our learning programme brings the Foundling Hospital story to life in ways that are meaningful for young people, especially those who are looked after and care-experienced, to help them see the world differently and to imagine new possibilities for themselves. Artwork from these projects is showcased in the Museum through displays and public events.
Explore the intriguing story behind this important London institution and the ways in which artists and children have inspired each other for over 275 years.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge became Patron in March 2019.
November 28, 2017 – Visiting The Foundling Museum – The Duchess of Cambridge visited The Foundling Museum to learn about how the Museum aims to give young people new skills, an understanding of history, and a space in which their voices are heard. During her visit Catherine viewed tokens on display which were left by mothers with their babies at The Foundling Hospital so they could identify them. Her Royal Highness met with children and their families who have benefited from the Foundling Museum, including those from The Thomas Coram nursery (which is next to the Foundling Museum and young children from Argyle Primary School. The also participated in some arts & crafts.
March 19, 2019 – The Duchess of Cambridge Visits The Foundling Museum – After announcing that she would become their Patron, The Duchess of Cambridge visited The Foundling Museum. When The Duchess first visited The Foundling Museum in 2017 she met with the first intake of ‘Tracing our Tales’ trainees. Two years later she again met some of these young adults again to hear how the programme has helped them gain confidence and employment. She also joined a ‘Tracing our Tales’ training session, inspired by the Museum’s Bedrooms of London exhibition and by explorations of fears and safety. The Museum’s ‘Bedrooms of London’ exhibition, documents the living conditions of London’s most disadvantaged children. Ending her visit, The Duchess had a few words for her new patronage: “… I feel hugely proud today to be here today to become Patron of the Foundling Museum. Your work connects and celebrates two subjects that are deeply important to me: children, and art. I am passionate about improving children’s life chances and giving them opportunities, so that they can look forward to the best possible futures, fulfil their whole potential, and have the freedom to explore their creativity. I have always believed in the power of art, not only to unlock that creativity, but also to bring us joy, and to inspire, challenge and positively change our lives…”