The Foundling Museum in London tells the story of the Foundling Hospital and houses the nationally important Foundling Hospital Art Collection. The Museum examines the work of its founder Thomas Coram, the artist William Hogarth and the composer George Frideric Handel. It also illustrates how the Foundling Hospital's charity work for children is still carried on today by Coram.
The Foundling Museum was set up as a separate charitable organisation in 1998 . After a major building refurbishment it opened to the public as a state-of-the-art museum in June 2004.
The refurbishment of 2003–2004 was designed by the London architectural firm Jestico and Whiles. A new section, carried out in modern style, was added to the building at this time. The building has thus become a successful amalgamation of architectural styles from the 18th century, the 1930s, and today.
Foundling tokens (coins, a button, jewelry, a poem) were given by mothers leaving their babies, allowing the Foundling Hospital to match a mother with her child should she ever come back to claim it. Sadly, the overwhelming majority of the children never saw their mothers again and their tokens are still in the care of the museum.
The Committee Room, one of the original eighteenth century interiors, is the room where mothers intending to leave their babies would be interviewed for suitability. It now houses several pictures and furniture, including Hogarth’s satirical and political March of the Guards to Finchley and a series of paintings by Emma King, depicting scenes from the lives of the children in the Foundling Hospital.
The Picture Gallery is another original interior room. On the walls are paintings of governors and hospital officials through the ages. These portraits include Allan Ramsay’s portrait of Dr Richard Mead, Reynolds’s portrait of the Earl of Dartmouth, and Thomas Hudson’s portrait of the hospital’s architect, Theodore Jacobsen.
The Court Room is where the Foundling Hospital’s Court of Governors used to meet. The room is a rococo ensemble of paintings, furniture and interior architecture, designed to make the best possible impression on all future potential governors and donors. The ceiling is a plaster work by William Wilton and paintings include Hogarth’s Moses before Pharao’s Daughter and Gainsborough’s picture of London’s Charter House.
The uppermost floor of the Foundling Museum houses the Gerald Coke Handel Collection. An exhibition room presents Handel’s life and visitors can learn about his connection to the Foundling Hospital and see the testament he left behind. A fair copy of the Messiah, left to the Hospital at his death, is also displayed. Four armchairs with built in speakers play Handel’s music.
London's Foundling Museum reopens this week, following a 4.2m [pounds sterling] restoration and refurbishment project.(News)(Brief Article)
Jun 10, 2004; London's Foundling Museum reopens this week, following a 4.2m [pounds sterling] restoration and refurbishment project. Originally...