Kate, Duchess of Cambridge visited the Foundling Museum in London today, to learn about the museum’s history and how it uses art and creativity to support vulnerable children and families.
The Foundling Museum is the UK’s first children’s charity and first public art gallery; opened in 1739 by Thomas Coram as the Foundling Hospital, it hoped to care for ‘babies at risk of abandonment’. This usually meant mothers who were unable to look after their children left them with the organisation.
Until 1954, the house cared for these orphans and helped find children homes.
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) November 28, 2017
Greeted by the press outside the museum near King’s Cross, Kate was asked about her brother-in-law’s engagement. She said: “William and I are absolutely thrilled. It’s such exciting news. It’s a really happy time for any couple and we wish them all the best and hope they enjoy this happy moment.”
Ms. Markle said that The Duchess of Cambridge had been ‘wonderful’ to her in the couple’s engagement interview yesterday, while Harry said both William and Kate had been ‘amazing’.
Inside, the Duchess learnt more about the museum’s history and the way it uses its founding principles to help children and families in need today, mainly through art. Caro Howell, the museum’s director, was responsible for the tour.
The Foundling Hospital Art Collection is housed within the museum, as well as the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, which is the world’s greatest privately amassed collection of memorabilia linked to the German composer.
Cartoonist William Hogarth and George Frideric Handel were both major benefactors of the organisation, and Hogarth encouraged the leading artists of the day to donate their work, thus establishing the UK’s first public art gallery. the collection includes pieces from Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, Emma Brown and Hogarth himself.
Handel donated an organ and conducted annual concerts of ‘Messiah’ in the chapel, raising money for the hospital.
Catherine was shown a selection of tokens which mothers left with their babies for identification purposes, should the mother be in a position to take her child home in future.
“It’s so sad,” the pregnant Duchess said, when told many of the mothers never returned to collect the children or the trinkets.
A number of medical related exhibitions were also on display, and Catherine was shown them and given information on the collections.
The royal guest then met those who have been benefitting from the museum’s education and outreach programmes, which focus on the vulnerable and the marginalised.
Those Kate chatted to included pre-school children from a local nursery who regularly visit the museum, as well as young people who have left care; they are being trained to run their own creative workshops, which helps let of steam and channel emotions.
She also took part in a craft session with some young children, seeming to thoroughly enjoy herself. The project is in conjunction with Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Tomorrow, Kate will visit a school in Kingston, to hear about their gardening programme.