7 Things You Didn’t Know About The Foundling Museum’s History | Kidadl

Today, his incredible story can be seen through a series of collections and audio tapes on display at The Foundling Museum, showcasing what life was like for the abandoned and unwanted children who lived there. Here’s all you need to know for your visit.

7 things you didn’t know about the Foundling Museum’s history

People would visit the art gallery

1. Many people thought the idea to be an impossible task

Thomas Coram found it hard to gain backing for his idea, because at that time, people believed that helping ‘unwanted’ children would encourage promiscuity.

2. It was one of the first institutions to combine fundraising with art

Coram’s friend, the artist William Hogarth, became a founding governor and asked his contemporaries to donate their works of art to display in the Foundling Hospital gallery, turning it into a fashionable and much visited space. People would visit the art gallery and also see the children who lived there - and therefore be persuaded to donate some money.

3. It soon became a platform helping to promote up and coming composers’ careers

Hogarth persuaded another pal, George Frideric Handel, to perform his latest work, Messiah, at the Hospital’s chapel, in a series of benefit concerts to raise money for the cause - Messiah went on to become one of the most popular works of its time.

Messiah went on to become one of the most popular works

4. Handel left some of his Messiah score, plus other artefacts and works, to the Foundling Hospital in his will

These can still be seen on display today.

The music score for Handel's Messiah

5. Art collector Gerald Coke's collection is on display today

He spent 60 years gathering books, scores, manuscripts and more relating to Handel and his contemporaries, which is now all displayed at the Foundling Museum.

6. Today the Foundling Museum is situated on the original site of the Hospital

The museum is in London’s Bloomsbury, and still retains some of the original architectural features. The Foundling Hospital continues to exist as a charity now called Coram.

The Foundling Hospital continues to exist as a charity

7. The museum as we know it today was established in 2004

Built on the Foundling Hospital’s original site, its purpose today is to preserve and display the Foundling Hospital collection and also to look after the Gerald Coke Handel Collection.

Built on the Foundling Hospital’s original site

“My 7 and 9 year old were fascinated by the stories of the children who lived in the Foundling Hospital.” 

Sarah, mum of two from Barnet

After spending 15 years working for some of the UK's top magazines and newspapers, Henri joined Kidadl in 2017 as a content manager and is now responsible for making sure all projects at Kidadl are delivered on time and provide parents with the very best tools and resources to educate and entertain their children. When she's not chasing copy, Henri can be found out and about exploring North London's green spaces with her two sons aged 6 and 9.

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