Along with Great Ormond Street Hospital and Coram’s Fields, the Foundling Museum occupies a corner of Bloomsbury that is forever children. The original Foundling Hospital, established in 1739 by Thomas Coram, cared for children abandoned by destitute parents. It was the first UK children’s charity and the first public art gallery, supported as it was by prominent artists of the time including Hogarth and Handel. The museum is housed in a clever Georgian pastiche built on the site in the 1930s, though much of the interior is painstakingly reconstructed from the original building to give an impressive time warp, along with fixtures and fittings from the hospital and works of art donated by the likes of Reynolds and Gainsborough. All so grand and impressive but it’s the minutiae of daily hospital life that truly tugs at the heart: uniforms, photographs, voice recordings, a lone bed, and the tokens, oh the tokens. These are small items such as a button, a coin or a twist of ribbon left by parents to help identify their babies should they ever return for them. Now, each one tells a poignant story of loss and hope, connecting their past lives to our present.
The Foundling MuseumAn evocative museum and gallery telling the history of London's abandoned children
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