Duchess of Cambridge visits Foundling Museum’s young people programme & is named patron

The Duchess of Cambridge was named the Royal Patron of the Foundling Museum today, ahead of her visit there. Catherine spend some time at the museum to learn how art is used to make a positive impact to society by engaging with vulnerable young people.

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Based in central London, the museum tells the history of the Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity and England’s first public art gallery. The Duchess’ patronage recognises the museum’s work to transform the wellbeing and life chances of vulnerable children and young adults through creative collaboration with artists.

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.

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Kate spent time learning about the museum’s pioneering programmes, particularly its training programme for young adults who have been in care and have completed the museum’s ‘Tracing Our Tales’ training programme.

The programme gives young care-leavers the skills to run creative workshops for visitors to the Foundling Museum. The Duchess of Cambridge heard the positive effect the training has had on their self-esteem, mental wellbeing, education, and employment at the museum and beyond.

This, of course, tallies with her work with the Art Room.

Catherine joined a training session, donning an apron, and was shown around the museum’s current exhibition by the young workshop leaders.

This included cutting out delicate patterns on small paper tiles and painting prints with them.

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Whilst there, she gave a speech saying: “I feel hugely proud to be here today to become patron of the Foundling Museum.

“Your work connects and celebrates two subjects that are deeply important to me – children and art.

“I am passionate about improving children’s life chances and giving them opportunities so that they can look forward to the best possible futures, fulfil their whole potential and have the freedom to explore their creativity.

“I have always believed in the power of art, not only to unlock that creativity but also to bring us joy and to inspire, challenge and positively change our lives.”

She added: “Your museum here powerfully links these two forces for good.”

“By weaving together moving stories of looked after children with art and artists of all genres, you create meaningful learning experiences which will have a lasting and often transformational impact on young lives.

“I could not be more delighted to support such a special organisation.”

The museum works with contemporary artists, writers and musicians to develop learning programmes for young people.

Kate visited the museum’s Bedrooms of London, a photography exhibition by Katie Wilson, that documents the living conditions of the capital’s most vulnerable children and young adults.

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Chatting to the royal visitor about her exhibition, Ms Wilson said: “A lot of these people have fallen through the net.”

The graduates picked out images in the gallery that particularly resonated with them and chatted to the future Queen about their experiences.

The Duchess last visited the Foundling Museum in December 2017, when she met families and children who have benefited from the museum’s work.

Upon announcing the patronage, Larissa Joy, Chair of Trustees – Foundling Museum, said: ‘We are delighted and honoured that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge has become Patron of the Foundling Museum. We could not imagine a more perfect Patron. We look forward to working with her as we fulfil our mission to inspire people to make positive impact on society through the arts.’

Caro Howell, Director of the Foundling Museum, said: ‘The Foundling Museum is thrilled and honoured to receive The Duchess’ patronage. Her support is a huge boost to our work transforming the lives of vulnerable young people through the arts.’

 Earlier in the day, Kate attended an engagement with The Queen to open Bush House at King’s College London.

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