History of the Museum

The Foundling Museum was established in 1998 as a charity to care for the Foundling Hospital Collection.  Following an extensive fundraising, renovation and rebuilding campaign the Foundling Museum opened in 2004.

The Museum was established by a legal ruling from the Attorney-General in 1998, giving the Museum twenty five years in which to raise funds equivalent to the market value of the Collection, effectively purchasing the Collection from the Foundling Hospital which continues today as the children’s charity Coram. Funds raised to purchase the Collection secure the artworks for the Museum and go directly to Coram, to support its vital childcare work. When the Foundling Hospital placed its remaining children in foster homes in 1954 the charity was renamed and continues today as Coram. Coram aims to provide, develop and promote best practice in the care of vulnerable children, young people and their families.

The present Museum building was constructed in 1937 following the move of the Hospital, and the children under its care, out of London, first to Redhill in Surrey, and later to Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. The Museum was previously the Hospital’s London headquarters. It includes original eighteenth century interiors, furniture and fittings from the original London Hospital building including the Committee Room, the Picture Gallery, a staircase from the boys’ wing and the magnificent Rococo Court Room. 

The Museum also houses the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, which is one of the largest privately-owned collections of Handel memorabilia. It was allocated to the Museum under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme in 2008. The Collection is complemented by study and research facilities.