Foundling Museum 3

Jun 27, 2013 by

When you next visit the Foundling Museum, take the time to have a good look around. I had a little explore last time I was there and made a few surprising discoveries.

First I went to the top floor, where I found one of the most peaceful spots in London. All alone, I settled down in one of the acoustic armchairs, closed my eyes and listened to a selection of instrumental music by Handel.

Fair Copy of Messiah C Coram in the care of the Foundling Museum

This room is the home of the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, started in the 30s and given a home at the Museum because of Handel’s links with the Foundling Hospital, collecting £7,000 over 10 years and raising its profile in London society.

Amongst the exhibits are a beautiful wooden circular timeline of Handel’s life alongside other cultural and international events and the original manuscript of ‘The Messiah.’ In the comfortable leather armchairs with built-in speakers, you can choose from Instrumental or Sacred Music, Opera or Ode and Oratorio.

On the first floor I discovered the Court Room. This was built in 1745 and reconstructed at the Museum. It has a wonderful Rococo plasterwork ceiling and you are invited to examine the detail using magnifying mirrors. Another treat is the eight roundels, circular paintings of charitable institutions and hospitals in London, by well-known artists, including a 21 year old Gainsborough.

The Charterhouse, 1748, oil on canvas, by Thomas Gainsborough (1727 - 1788) C Coram in the care of the Foundling MuseumThe Foundling Fellowship was introduced in 2008. It is a biennial award to individuals who have had a positive impact on children and revives the tradition of artistic philanthropy of people like Handel and William Hogarth. I enjoy watching the videos showing the work that has been done by the fellows with vulnerable local children and young people. The current fellows are Michael Morpurgo and Dame Emma Kirby.

The ground floor tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, from its founding in 1741, to 1953 when the last 50 children went into foster care. It is spacious, well-designed and the carefully selected exhibits are clearly labelled, encouraging closer inspection.

 

Portrait of Captain Thomas Coram 1740, William Hogarth (1697-1764) C Coram in the care of the Foundling Museum

 

An excellent café is just what is needed to finish off your visit or to take a break before exploring another part. This is my favourite London museum and will take some beating.

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