Thursday, 14 June 2007

Doing it for the kids

William Hogarth, Moses before Pharaoh's Daughter from 1746
Courtesy of the Foundling Museum.

Foundling Museum
40 Brunswick Sq
London, WC1N 1AZ

Distance from Kings Cross Station:
approx 800 metres or 1/2 mile.

In trying to source out some cool places "within 2kms radius of Kings Cross Station" (which is the definition of Kings Cross I've been given), I discovered the Foundling Museum and it's amazing! It comes with an array of very impressive credentials:

*Britain's first public art gallery to exhibit British artists,
*Its first governor was none other than William Hogarth
*Britain's first model for 'philanthropic charity' i.e runs on private funds.
*Houses a stack of Hogarths and other amazing historical works, including portraits of Thomas Coram and Hendel.

A 'hospital' that looked after, housed, raised and educated the city's abandoned children, Foundling Hospital was started in the early 18th Century and while parts of it are 1930s replica, the Museum is a shrine to a century of children's charity, which only moved out of London last century.

The highlight of the visit for me was the Court Room and Hogarth's Moses before Pharaoh's Daughter from 1746. A grand painting slightly in the vein of the History Painting, but reflecting the nature of the Hospital's charity. The painting holds court (literally) in the centre of the western wall and is breathtaking. In fact, the rococco design of the whole room is amazing. Who needs to go to the Wallace Collection, when you've got the Foundling Museum on your doorstep!

On Brunswick Square, not far from either UCL or Euston Station, it's at once a chance to absorb some culture steeped in altruism and humanist care, and a chance to connect with the idea of childhood innocence. Hogarth set out to improve the image of 'the child' to that of innocence and naivete, which had previously been as a carrier of their parents sins and reputations.

And, if you've got children, it's a great place to find some activities for the kids. Especially with the summer holidays coming up, the Foundling are focusing on kids' creative space, with a whole months' work of free art activities and concerts, continuing the tradition that the great British Master set up of nuturing children's minds in order to produce 'outstanding citizens'.

** Tea update: While I didn't get a chance to have a cuppa there, there is a cafe attached to the museum, so if you're a bit thirsty, hungry or tired, there's something there for you.


william said...

for something really different in the art scene try the Maiden Lane Estate off York Way opposite Egg the nightclub. the architecture is strikingly (sort of) modernist and there is a huge range of graffiti out the back.

best done in daylight and perhaps not on your own. drop me a line and i can show you

lauren said...

thanks william - i wish i saw this comment earlier - as I spent the day checking out the architecture and didn't check out the Maiden Lane Estate.

Next time, gadget, next time.

Subscribe with Bloglines