I would definitely count the Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury as one of London’s hidden treasures.
The Foundling Museum is worth visiting for its splendid interior, fascinating collections, changing exhibitions – and it’s an absolute must see for Hogarth enthusiasts.
The philanthropic sea captain Thomas Coram founded the hospital in 1739 for the “education and maintenance of exposed and deserted babies and young children”. Bear in mind that then the word “hospital” was not used in the sense it is today; then, it indicated an institution for those less fortunate.
The first stone was laid in 1742. At the time, the hospital was described as “the most imposing single monument erected by 18th century benevolence” and became London’s most popular charity. Estimations suggest Thomas Coram’s good work benefitted more than 27,000 youngsters.
The museum, now housed in the only remaining hospital building (the administration building) tells the story of Thomas Coram’s amazing work and really does appeal to all ages. In addition, the glorious Rococo interior houses works donated by artists including Louis-Francois Roubiliac, Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough.
The museum also explores the work of the composer George Frideric Handel and artist William Hogarth, both governors and major benefactors of the institution. The works donated by the artists made the Foundling Hospital the nation’s first art gallery open to the general public.