Foundling Museum
museum in Bloomsbury, London



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Foundling Museum
museum in Bloomsbury, London
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40 Brunswick Square
United Kingdom

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A small but choice museum of art, orphans, and music.

It is in Bloomsbury, central London, home to the hip literary scene during the 17th and 18th centuries. Its squares, including Brunswick where the Foundling Museum is located, are a lovely green surrounded by lavish, four-story town houses.

The Foundling was Britain's first home for 'found' children. It opened in 1739 to take in children given up or abandoned by their parents and only closed its doors as an orphanage 215 years later, in the 1950s. 

The museum opened in 1998 but its art collection started almost immediately when the hospital began finding babies. The renowned William Hogarth was a founder of the institution and donated his famous portrait of Captain Thomas Coram. German-born composer George Frideric Handel (you know, Handel’s Messiah) was one of the other founders.

The Museum mixed exhibitions on the hospital's histories, including the 'foundling tokens' (coins, a button, jewelry, a poem) that mothers leaving babies gave the hospital to help match mother and child if she was able to reclaim her baby. 25,000 children passed through the institution. Most of the tokens were never used and are now at the museum.

The art collection is small but wonderful as many of Hogarth’s contemporaries donated works, and patrons in the 19th century donated additional paintings, sculpture, prints, furniture, and clocks. Women had no role in the governance of the Hospital until the twentieth century, but the collection has works by the Victorian artists Emma Brownlow and Sophia Anderson, which depict everyday life at the Hospital.

Alongside the art collection and Foundling gallery there is The Gerald Coke Handel Collection, which covers the life and work composer Handel. It includes manuscripts, printed books and music, ephemera, coins, medals and artworks from the eighteenth to the twentieth century.


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Here is what Wikipedia says about Foundling Museum

The Foundling Museum in Brunswick Square, London tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, Britain's first home for children at risk of abandonment. The museum houses the nationally important Foundling Hospital Collection as well as the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, an internationally important collection of material relating to Handel and his contemporaries. After a major building refurbishment the museum opened to the public in June 2004.

The museum explores the history of the Foundling Hospital, which continues today as the children's charity Coram.. Artists such as William Hogarth and the composer George Frideric Handel are central to the Hospital story and today the museum celebrates the ways in which creative people have helped improve children's lives for over 275 years. It is a member of The London Museums of Health & Medicine group.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Foundling Museum.