London's Foundling Museum is a collection of art, period interiors and social history, housed in a restored and refurbished building in Brunswick Square, next to the site of the original Foundling Hospital (which was demolished in 1926, after the decision to move the hospital to a healthier location in the countryside).
The exhibits tell the story of London's first home for abandoned children - the Foundling Hospital, dating from 1739, and the involvement of three men connected with its history - the philanthropic sea captain Thomas Coram, the artist William Hogarth and the composer George Frideric Handel. Handel's involvement began on 1 May 1750 when he directed a performance of Messiah to mark the presentation of an organ to the chapel. The musical service at the hospital was originally sung only by the blind children, but Handel was responsible for bringing Messiah and an element of fashion to the performances.
Of particular interest to classical music is the Gerald Coke Handel Collection. Handel was a governor and benefactor of the Foundling Hospital. Annual performances of Messiah provided the hospital with vital income, and the composer left the work's score and parts to the hospital. The collection includes manuscripts, printed books, music, libretti, paintings, engravings, memorabilia, works of art and ephemera, all relating in some way to Handel and his contemporaries. There is a public exhibition room, open during normal museum hours, a reading room, a collection store and a small meeting room.
The Foundling Museum has a lively series of events, including public concerts, several of which have been reviewed in Music & Vision. Further information about future events can be found at www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk
A selection of M&V articles about Foundling Museum
Ensemble. A Worthy Feast - Christopher White and Melanie Reinhard at London's Foundling Museum, enjoyed by Malcolm Miller
Intrinsic Virtue - A concert and Handel exhibition at London's Foundling Museum, reviewed by Malcolm Miller
Seeds of Genius - Alberto Portugheis plays Beethoven at London's Foundling Museum, reviewed by Malcolm Miller
Ensemble. A Special Pleasure - The Greenwich Trio, heard by Malcolm Miller
Evocative Canvases - A recital by Miriam Brickman, reviewed by Malcolm Miller
Ensemble. Radiant Lyricism - Victoria Grigorieva and Ekaterina Lebedeva play Beethoven and Ravel, reviewed by Malcolm Miller
Prizewinner's Recital - Malcolm Miller applauds Julian Clef at London's Foundling Museum