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What Is the Foundling Museum?

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  • Written By: A. Gamm
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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The Foundling Museum celebrates the history of the hospital of the same name and its three major contributors: philanthropist Thomas Coram, well-known painter William Hogarth, and renowned composer George Frideric Handel. This hospital was a refuge for orphaned children and was the first of its kind. Its history was enriched with the aid of the three men who brought the arts and the attention of several socially significant figures to the hospital and their cause. The primary focus of the museum is on the contributions these men made, the art donated to the hospital, and the lives of the orphans. It is a popular venue for concerts, book signings, and private events.

One of the factors that made the Foundling Hospital and its subsequent museum unique was the men involved who raised awareness and set it apart by connecting the hospital to the arts. Thomas Coram, who founded the Foundling Hospital, worked for nearly 20 years prior to its opening to raise awareness and interest as well as to secure government funding. William Hogarth became one of the first governors at the hospital and also used it to open the first public art gallery in England. George Frideric Handel also governed at the hospital and held fundraising concerts for its cause.

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The site of the Foundling Museum is located on the same stretch of land as the original hospital and sits near the Coram Fields, which is a playground dedicated to Coram. Foundling Museum is built with parts of the original hospital incorporated within it, including a grand staircase that was in the boy’s wing of the hospital. Several of the original donated paintings also feature in the museum as well as newly donated works. Many of the rooms in the Foundling Museum are restorations of how the hospital looked with the artwork displayed.

As of 2011, the Foundling Museum still holds several concerts throughout the year. Occasionally, former Foundling Hospital children come to the museum to speak about their time there and their lives afterward. Several free workshops are also sometimes held at the museum to help support the creativity of potential artists. Private events ranging from luncheons to weddings are also often held at the museum. In keeping with the original goal of helping children, the museum offers several educational tours and activities to foster children’s knowledge on a regular basis.

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