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Foundling Museum

16:37 Mon 24th May 2010 |

The Foundling Museum in London tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, Britain's first home for abandoned children. The museum houses the nationally important Foundling Hospital Art Collection as well as the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, the world's greatest privately amassed collection of Handel memorabilia.

The museum examines the work of the Foundling Hospital's founder Thomas Coram, as well as the artist William Hogarth and the composer George Frideric Handel, both major benefactors of the institution. It also illustrates how the Foundling Hospital's charity work for children still carries on today through the child care organisation Coram.

The museum also lets the visitor see furniture, photographs and other items from the days when the Foundling Hospital still accepted abandoned children to be reared and educated within its walls. Some 27,000 children passed through the Hospital between 1739 and 1954.

Foundling tokens (coins, a button, jewellery, a poem) were given by mothers leaving their babies, allowing the Foundling Hospital to match a mother with her child should she ever come back to claim it. Sadly, the overwhelming majority of the children never saw their mothers again and their tokens are still in the care of the museum.

The Foundling Museum was set up as a separate charitable organisation in 1998. After a major building refurbishment it opened to the public as a state-of-the-art museum in June 2004. The museum's current Director is Lars Tharp a regular 'expert' on Antiques Roadshow.

Fine eighteenth-century interiors and England's first public art collection provide a unique backdrop for exclusive entertaining and events.

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Contact details for the Foundling Museum tel: 020 7841 3600, fax: 020 7841 3601.

The museum is open: Tuesday - Saturday, 10am - 5pm, Sunday 11am - 5pm but is closed on Mondays. There is free admission for Art Fund members and children up to 16 years. Get the Foundling Pass for one year's unlimited free entry to the Foundling Museum.

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