The Foundling Museum

Care-experienced curators for exhibition

The Foundling Museum celebrates the lives of care-experienced people and is a pioneer in the field of creative work with young care-leavers. Since 2017 the museum has run ‘Tracing our Tales’, the UK’s only museum training programme for care-experienced young adults. For the first time, graduates from the programme will help devise and deliver a major exhibition at the museum. The exhibition, ‘Family’, opens in March 2023.

We’re pleased to support the Foundling Museum with a grant of £41,500 to deliver Family. The exhibition and accompanying programme of public events will explore ideas of family from the perspective of young people with lived experience of growing up without birth parents and/or in care.

  • The Foundling Museum opened in 2004 and tells the story of The Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and public art gallery which opened in 1739 to care for babies at risk of abandonment.
  • The Foundling Museum has delivered pioneering programmes for care-experienced young people since 2017.
  • Tracing Our Tales was awarded Learning Programme of the Year at the 2022 Museum and Heritage Awards.

Learning experience

Up to 7 graduates of Tracing our Tales will co-curate the exhibition, working with the museum’s curators and the National Gallery. The graduates will assist in developing a narrative for the show, design the layout and choreograph how visitors move through the exhibition. Participants from the Tracing our Tales creative writing course will write exhibition interpretation panels and captions. The participants, all care-experienced and aged between 19 and 28, will get real-world experience to help them pursue careers in the arts. They’ll also develop transferable skills, including written communication and public speaking.

Visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to reflect on their own assumptions and preconceptions of family, as well as those of artists and curators. The exhibition will reduce the stigma around growing up in care by showcasing participants’ skills and raising awareness of the challenges they’ve overcome.

“In terms of scale and ambition, Family marks a step-change in our work. By giving narrative control of our temporary exhibition and the collections to care-leavers, and enabling them to expand this narrative through partnerships with artists and curators, we are extending their understanding and ownership of museums, art and culture. We are also enabling visitors to see familiar stories, subjects and works of art in a different light – one that is informed by childhoods spent outside traditional family structures. In this way, we hope Family will play a significant role in our ongoing aim to remove the stigma around growing up in care.”

Caro Howell, former Director of the Foundling Museum

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