United Kingdom

40 Brunswick Square

Phone: 020 7841 3600
Website: http://www.foundlingmuseu

The Foundling Museum

The Foundling Museum explores the history of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and first public art gallery.
Established in 1739 by philanthropist Thomas Coram, and continuing today as the children’s charity Coram, the Hospital was set up as an institution ‘for the maintenance and education of exposed and deserted young children’. Instrumental in helping Coram realise his vision were the artist William Hogarth, who encouraged leading artists of the day to donate work, and the composer George Frideric Handel, who gave annual benefit concerts of his Messiah. Through a dynamic programme of exhibitions and events, we celebrate their vision and the ways in which artists and children have inspired each other for over 275 years.
Discover the intriguing story behind this important London institution and the children who grew up there, alongside original period interiors, poignant artefacts and inspiring art. Pick up a unique, artist-designed souvenir in our Shop, or relax in our Café, offering a delicious selection of teas, coffees, cakes and light lunches.

 Permanent Collection Highlights (3)

 Click on the images to enlarge

Permanent Collection

The moving story of the Foundling Hospital and the children who grew up there is revealed through the artworks, objects and archival documents on display in the Museum. Artists who donated work to the Foundling Hospital include William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds and John Michael Rysbrack. Paintings, sculpture, furniture and ceramics are displayed in beautiful eighteenth-century interiors, reconstructed from the original Hospital building.

Shown alongside the art are poignant artefacts which reveal the lives of the abandoned children and the desperation of the mothers who gave them up. These include the small everyday objects, or ‘tokens’, left by women with their babies in the eighteenth century, as well as admission records, text books, uniforms, and testimonies from former pupils of the Foundling Hospital School in the twentieth century.

The Museum also holds the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, an internationally-important collection of material relating to composer George Frideric Handel and his contemporaries. The Collection of around 11,000 items includes manuscripts and printed scores, libretti, books, periodicals, programmes, artworks, sound recordings and ephemera. Key items on display include Handel’s will and the manuscript score of Messiah bequeathed to the Hospital.

Forthcoming exhibitions

25 May 2018 — 02 Sep 2018

British artist Jodie Carey creates three new site-responsive installations.
Commissioned by the Museum, Jodie Carey has created a series of striking works in response to the Foundling Hospital story. Displayed within the exhibition gallery and amongst the historic Collection, Carey’s monumental pieces are imbued with a sense of remembrance and emotional trace.

Drawing inspiration from the eighteenth-century fabric tokens left by mothers with their babies as a means of identification – one of the few tangible connections between mother and child – Sea is formed of hundreds of swatches of fabric that have been dipped in liquid clay and fired. These fragile white ceramic fragments cover the exhibition gallery floor. Upstairs, two monumental works cast in the earth explore ideas of memory and time. Eighteen life-size plaster sculptures crowd the Anteroom, while in the Foyer a delicate and slender bronze sculpture stands floor to ceiling.

Carey’s abstract and organic works seek to make visible the fragility of life and human relationships, to acknowledge the absent presence of the children who passed through the Foundling Hospital, and to reflect on the elemental drives at the heart of its story; love, loss, and survival.


Adults: £11 with donation | £10 without donation
Concessions: £8.25 with donation | £7.50 without donation
FREE for children, Foundling Friends & National Art Pass holders

Opening hours

Tues–Sat 10:00-17:00, Sun 11:00–17:00, Mon closed

Getting there

Tube or Train
We are less than 5 minutes’ walk from Russell Square underground station. Alternatively, King’s Cross St Pancras and Euston stations are approximately 10 minutes’ walk from the Museum.

The nearest buses are the 7, 59, 68, 91, 98, 168 and 188 from Russell Square Station.

Cycling is recommended as an alternative mode of transport. The nearest docking stations for Santander Cycle Hire are located at Brunswick Square and Russell Square Station.

Visitors are encouraged to use public transport where possible. There is an NCP carpark at the Brunswick Centre for visitors wishing to travel by car, please contact them directly for more information.

Blue Badge parking is available outside the Museum.


We are committed to making our facilities accessible to all visitors.

Visitors with disabilities are entitled to the concessionary rate. Carers of those with disabilities are admitted free of charge.

Visitors with a Blue Badge for disabled parking may park on the single yellow line for up to 3 hours or in the residents' bays outside the Museum entrance. Blue Badges must be displayed at all times.

The Museum has ramped access, a lift to all floors, accessible toilets with baby-changing facilities and a cloakroom. A wheelchair, facilities for guide dogs, large print interpretation texts and magnifying glasses are also available on request. Should you have further access requirements please contact us in advance on +44 (0)20 7841 3600

Museum internal and external photos (1)

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Complement your visit with a tour of the Museum. Our guides will bring the history of the Foundling Hospital to life, using a mix of historical fact and remarkable personal stories of children at this important London institution. Learn about the Museum’s many treasured objects and discover our extensive art collection. Whether it’s just for you, or a group, this tour gives an excellent introduction to our fascinating story. Full details and prices available on our website.

Please note that guided tours and group visits must be booked in advance.


Art activities for families to enjoy together are available every day at the Foundling Museum, making this a fun place to visit, at any time of year. The Museum is designed with young visitors in mind. They can explore the Collection with creative activity trails, dress up as characters from the Foundling Hospital's history, or drop in to one of our artist-led workshops.


Art activities for families to enjoy together are available every day at the Foundling Museum, making this a fun place to visit, at any time of year. The Museum is designed with young visitors in mind. They can explore the Collection with creative activity trails, dress up as characters from the Foundling Hospital's history, or drop in to one of our artist-led workshops.


We offer artist-led workshops for schools, exploring the story and legacy of the Foundling Hospital and enabling students to develop their ideas and creativity through discussion and practical activities. Workshops cover Key Stages 1-5 and include cross-curricular links.

For a unique experience in London, book a free visit to explore our Collection and exhibitions with your pupils. We offer a range of resources for Key Stage 1-4 which complement group visits and explore different aspects of the Foundling Hospital story in relation to Art, Design and English. Special resources also accompany our regular programme of exhibitions and displays.

Full details available on our website.


Our exhibitions and displays are complemented by a lively programme of talks, film screenings, tours and special events, designed to explore the rich history of the Foundling Hospital and enable visitors to gain a deeper insight into subjects addressed by our exhibitions. We also host over 50 live music events a year which are staged in the beautiful surroundings of the Picture Gallery. Full details available on our website.


Becoming a Friend of the Foundling Museum offers many benefits, including free unlimited entry plus discounts on events and in the shop. Full details available on our website.

Venue hire

We can host a variety of events, from intimate and lavish weddings, to corporate receptions, conferences, team days out and private dinners. Hold a dinner for up to 40 guests in the magnificent Court Room, hire the Picture Gallery for a reception for up to 150, or host 250 guests throughout.

We offer exclusive evening hire of the Museum so your guests can explore our opulent galleries whilst enjoying drinks and canapés, or discover our Collections with a tailored guided tour. The Museum also provides a stunning backdrop for filming and photoshoots.

Alternatively our Creative Studio is ideal for meetings, away days, seminars, training and much more. The purpose built, modern space is fully equipped with conference and seminar facilities. Delegate rates are available.

If you’re looking for a place to hire for your next party, our dedicated and experienced team will tailor your event to your expectations and budget, creating a unique and memorable occasion for you and your guests. We have dedicated staff to help you from site visits, administration and pre-planning through to on-site management of the event itself. Corporate members enjoy discounted and complementary hire of the Museum.

The Foundling Museum is a registered charity. Income from venue hire supports our work with marginalised and care-experienced children.

Full details available on our website.