Foundling Museum

Foundling Museum information

London , United Kingdom
40 Brunswick Sq
Getting there
Underground Rail: Russell Sq
More information
adult/child £7.50/free
Opening hours
10am-5pm Tue-Sat, 11am-5pm Sun
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The Foundling Hospital opened in 1741 at a time of such extreme poverty that a thousand babies were abandoned annually. Hogarth was a founding governor, and in order to raise funds he hung his own artwork in the hospital's picture gallery and encouraged other artists to do the same – creating the first permanent exhibition space in Britain. The hospital closed and was demolished in 1928, but this neighbouring building recalls its social and artistic legacy.

Leading-edge artists still exhibit their work here, along with art from throughout the hospital's history. Most affecting is the display of the trinkets and tokens that mothers left as a parting gift to their children; they were never passed on.

The top floor is devoted to a collection of Handel memorabilia – including concert programs, tickets and the composer's handwritten will. Handel staged an annual performance of his greatest work, Messiah, as a fundraiser for the hospital.