The Foundling Museum
- Explore the history of Georgian London through the collection of tokens, testimonies and artefacts that originated in this hospital for orphans.
- Check out the interesting temporary exhibitions that cover a range of subjects featuring art from centuries ago as well as some contemporary pieces.
- Get the whole family involved with the child-friendly activities and talks led by local artists.
- Take in the ambience and have a relaxing afternoon at one of the monthly classical concerts.
First established in 1739 as the Foundling Hospital for abandoned children, the Foundling Museum in London has a rich history and is deeply connected to the way of life in Georgian London. Now a modern-day children’s charity and supporter of the arts, this gallery museum invites the public to explore the ways of the past through both its permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. Merging local history and modern art this museum in West London makes for a fun day out for the whole family.
In the Victorian Era, leaving children abandoned at the door of an orphanage was a frequent occurrence, so much so that the Foundling Hospital even set up a basket at the front gate for people to drop their unwanted children in. It was customary for mothers to leave a token with their babies they left behind as an identifier in hopes that one day they would be reunited. Some of these tokens are on display, among other artefacts from when the building was used as a working hospital, to make up the Foundling Museum Collection so the stories of these children can still be told today through these heartfelt objects. These tokens range from pennies to engraved medallions, each with a unique backstory which is touching to uncover and learn about.
Alongside this is the Foundling Voices Collection, an archive of testimonies from the last generation that grew up in the care of the hospital. In 2008 a campaign was launched to find and interview the people who spent their childhood in the care of the hospital about what life was like for them. This moving exhibition brings the visitors back in time and offers a great insight into what life was like during that time for young people. It will be a fantastic experience for all the family to see the old ways of society and notice how much things have changed since then.
In addition to showing the historical display, the Foundling Museum also serves as an art gallery with many interesting temporary exhibitions. With compelling themes ranging from pregnancy in art to the development of music festivals throughout time, there is always something exciting going on here. These exhibitions contain work that dates as far back to the Georgian era right up to contemporary pieces from modern-day artists being featured. It is a lovely lesser-known gallery where viewers can see some truly amazing work.
Along with the wonderful informative exhibitions, the Foundling Museum also offers family workshops. Led by local artists, these unique workshops encourage children and parents alike to get in touch with their creative side and make something amazing to take home. With projects based on popular children’s books such as Jacqueline Wilson’s Hetty Feather to Micheal Morpurgo’s Lucky Button as well as unique practices like learning how to make a paper portrait or a bubble print, these hands-on workshops are sure to entertain children of all ages.
If you have an afternoon off and want to bring the kids to something special, why not check out the classical concerts at the Foundling Museum? One Thursday afternoon per month the museum holds a lunchtime concert that allows young classical musicians to perform for the public. Interviews and performances from the local musicians have been uploaded on to their website so the public can have a chance to get to know the people behind the music. From the violin to the piano and trumpet, an hour spent listening to these talented players in the ambience of the museum will delight the whole family.
What to know before you go
- The opening hours of the museum are Wednesday - Saturday from 10am - 5pm and Sunday from 11am - 5pm.
- There are no food vendors on-site for visitors to get refreshments from; however, there are two local cafés in which visitors of the Foundling Museum can get a discounted meal.
- There is a gift shop located inside the museum where visitors can purchase unique souvenirs such as art prints, books, token related trinkets and more.
- There are toilets, including accessible and gender-neutral toilets, and baby changing facilities located inside the museum.
- The Foundling Museum is wheelchair accessible with ramp access and lifts that guide visitors straight to the exhibitions.
- Pamphlets with large print and magnifying glasses are also available upon request for visitors who may need to use them.
- Assistance dogs are welcome on the premises.
How to get there
- The Foundling Museum is located approximately two miles from Central London.
- The closest Tube Stations are Russell Square, King’s Cross and Euston all about a 10-minute walk to the museum.
- Charing Cross Station is the closest station, about a 30-minute walk from the museum.
- If you are taking the bus the following routes all have stops nearby the museum; 7, 59, 68, 91, 98, 168 and 188.
- Visitors who need disabled parking are permitted to park on the single yellow line outside the museum; able-bodied visitors are requested to find parking on the streets surrounding the area.