Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Foundling Museum

Tonight was the TLS (Times Literary Supplement) Summer Party and I had the honour of being invited to a wonderful event in the most amazing venue. The party was in full force when I arrived at The Foundling Museum with various authors, journalists and then the likes of me (ha) enjoying canap├ęs, alcohol and the fantastic art in an amazing historical building. It was like on of those gallery openings or fabulous parties you get in Sex & the City… sort of. We weren’t allowed red wine as apparently it can destroy paint, you learn something random every day.


I have to admit had it not been for going tonight I would have had no idea that The Foundling Museum existed and certainly not in the centre of London. It looks on approach like one of the houses that you would get in Pride and Prejudice, one that belonged to a wealthy family. The history of the building is in fact that it was once part of a hospital and home for the children left unwanted that building was sadly mainly demolished in 1926. Its estimate at the time of the hospitals opening in 1793 that up to a thousand babies and children or more a year were left deserted in London.

Like most galleries and museums today it now houses its permanent galleries and its temporary ones, the current temporary exhibition is the works of the Italian painter Giuseppe Fioroni and the paintings are absolutely beautiful. It was actually artist William Hogarth who started the museum “encouraged leading artists of the day to donate works to the children’s home, with the aim of attracting wealthy potential benefactors” and you can still see some of these works today. One particular Hogarth Painting located on the ground floor has a brilliant story behind it, I will leave that for your visit and the guides to tell you but it involves prostitution, persecution and some very good luck, sounds like a novel.


What amazed me was the free reign that we had in the venue (which can be hired out obviously), three floors of fantastic art work and on the fourth floor is an amazing collection of Handel’s original music compositions and books, and it’s absolutely wonderful. I should really have written more about the party but the building was the star of the show for me. You can find out much more about it at http://www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk/ it’s honestly worth a visit.

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