A genius idea for parents and babies – a “Babe in Arms” tour of the Foundling Museum’s latest exhibition.
There is a lot of heartache in the story of the Foundling Hospital – a charity begun in the eighteenth century to care for babies who would otherwise have been abandoned on the streets of London. I shed a tear or two at the heart-breaking history to be found in this museum, but there is more here than tragedy, the museum puts research and resources to champion the rights and the needs of today’s children and parents.
A history of attitudes to motherhood form the basis of their latest exhibition Portraying Pregnancy. This exhibition was made even more accessible to new parents last week when they staged their first “Babe in Arms” guided tour.
The idea of a museum tour for parents and their babies is new, brilliant and I give much praise to the Foundling museum for thinking of this and making it happen.
Lily and I were delighted to attend the 9.30am tour which lasted around 45 minutes and was concluded with coffee, tea, treats and an opportunity for the parents to chat. I purchased a ticket on-line in advance and at £10 it seemed very reasonable, considering that the usual adult admission fee is £10.50. After the tour we were given the option to view the rest of the museum’s galleries and rooms at our own pace.
This was an excellent, well designed and thought through event. Lots of extra facilities were made available for us and here is a summary; a manned room was allocated to store our prams and belongings, a microwave and other baby food preparation equipment was on hand, at the start of the tour we were invited to feed our babies wherever we wanted, to sit on the floor during the tour if desired, to change the baby as necessary. Our guide, the Museum Director Caro Howell was very understanding and accommodating about her youngest visitors, their needs and occasional noises.
There were very very few down sides to this perambulation. My only niggles were that a 9.30am start necessitated rush hour travel – and with a baby this is not easy or comfortable. Secondly, because of the nature of some of the objects on display it was not possible to take Lily’s pram into the exhibition with us. Baby-wearing is not my (nor Lily’s) favourite system of travel, but we were warned about this need in advance and, with so many positives to recommend this event we attended sling-in-hand.
The Foundling Museum hope to offer more babe in armstours in the future – click here for details.
In the meantime, here is a look at the general facilities and practicalities involved in visiting the Foundling Museum on a typical day.
The museum has very nicely designed level access to the front, a lift to all floors and baby changing facilities in a unisex disabled access toilet on the ground floor. There is an un-manned buggy park. We travelled to the museum by car and parked in the Brunswick car park over the road, if you do this please be sure to book your space and pay in advance, the savings are very considerable. Alternatively, the nearest tube station with the most complete level access is Kings Cross St Pancras about a 10-minute walk away.
Thank you very much Foundling Museum for providing this very thought through and well catered perambulation. Both Lily and I loved it.
Changing facilities ****
Baby feeding facilities (including seating) ****
Enjoyable Perambulation *****