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The Foundling Museum

London, England

The Foundling Museum_9

The Foundling Museum explores the history of the Foundling Hospital, which was formed in the mid-eighteenth century to accept and care for abandoned infants in London and educate them as they grew older.

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RAA was asked to tell the story of the collaborative efforts of philanthropist Thomas Coram, artist William Hogarth, and composer George Frideric Handel to establish the hospital, and the role of this pioneering philanthropic institution in founding the first public art gallery in London to support social causes. From its foundation the Foundling Hospital was gifted paintings and sculpture from some of the most prominent eighteenth-century artists.

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The Foundling Museum_4
The Foundling Museum_4

Handel was a governor and benefactor of the hospital, and his annual performances of Messiah were vital sources of income. The museum holds the internationally important Gerald Coke Handel Collection, material relating to Handel and his contemporaries. It consists of manuscripts, printed books and music, libretti, paintings and engravings, memorabilia, art works, and ephemera. Handel’s will is among its treasures.

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The Foundling Museum_7

Some of the most moving objects RAA was entrusted to display are the Foundling Hospital tokens—including coins, buttons, jewelry and poems—left by mothers with their babies on admission, enabling the Foundling Hospital to match a mother with her child should she ever return to claim it.

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The museum aims to inspire everyone to make a positive contribution to society, by celebrating the power of individuals and the arts to change lives.

Year 2004

Size 4,305 square feet

Architect Jestico + Whiles

AwardsCivic Trust Award: Winner, UK Architectural and Environmental DesignGulbenkian Award: Finalist

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