The Foundling Museum
With a National Art Pass you get
Established in 1739 as a home for abandoned children, the Foundling Hospital became a cultural melting pot and London's first public art gallery.
The Foundling Hospital was established by Captain Thomas Coram, a retired sailor who was so moved by the plight of children abandoned on the streets of London that he set up a home for them. Among its influential supporters in the early years were the composer George Frideric Handel, who conducted benefit concerts for the Hospital, and William Hogarth, who donated several works of art and encouraged other artists to follow his example.
The hospital ceased to exist in 1954, but the charity, now named Coram, still works on behalf of vulnerable children. The Foundling Museum was established in 1998 to house and care for the remarkable collections.
To date, the gallery has run two successful Art Happens crowdfunding campaigns. The first in 2015, raised over £25,000 to put on The Fallen Women exhibition which revealed the untold stories of the women who gave up their babies to the Foundling Hospital. As part of their 2018 Ladies of Quality & Distinction campaign, they raised £35,000 to take down the portraits of the male governors who dominate their Picture Gallery and rehang it with 21 portraits of their first female champions.
And, you can even explore personal responses to objects in the museum from the people who know them best – volunteers, carers and graduates. Shared stories, Shared Voices is a project born out of the coronavirus pandemic, keeping the public connected to the incredible stories from the Foundling and the people who have the deepest connection to it.
In episode two of the second series of our podcast Meet Me at the Museum, join poet and chancellor of Manchester University Lemn Sissay as he takes good friend Asif Khan along to the Foundling Museum in London, where they explore the UK’s first children’s home and first public art gallery.
The more you see, the more we do.
The National Art Pass lets you enjoy free entry to hundreds of museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, while raising money to support them.